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25951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 26, 2007, 07:02:19 AM
White House Is Said to Debate ’08 Cut in Iraq Troops by 50%
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/26/washington/26strategy.html?th&emc=th         
 
By DAVID E. SANGER and DAVID S. CLOUD
Published: May 26, 2007
WASHINGTON, May 25 — The Bush administration is developing what are described as concepts for reducing American combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year, according to senior administration officials in the midst of the internal debate.

It is the first indication that growing political pressure is forcing the White House to turn its attention to what happens after the current troop increase runs its course.

The concepts call for a reduction in forces that could lower troop levels by the midst of the 2008 presidential election to roughly 100,000, from about 146,000, the latest available figure, which the military reported on May 1. They would also greatly scale back the mission that President Bush set for the American military when he ordered it in January to win back control of Baghdad and Anbar Province.

The mission would instead focus on the training of Iraqi troops and fighting Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, while removing Americans from many of the counterinsurgency efforts inside Baghdad.

Still, there is no indication that Mr. Bush is preparing to call an early end to the current troop increase, and one reason officials are talking about their long-range strategy may be to blunt pressure from members of Congress, including some Republicans, who are pushing for a more rapid troop reduction.

The officials declined to be quoted for attribution because they were discussing internal deliberations that they expected to evolve over several months.

Officials say proponents of reducing the troops and scaling back their mission next year appear to include Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They have been joined by generals at the Pentagon and elsewhere who have long been skeptical that the Iraqi government would use the opportunity created by the troop increase to reach genuine political accommodations.

So far, the concepts are entirely a creation of Washington and have been developed without the involvement of the top commanders in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, both of whom have been enthusiastic supporters of the troop increase.

Those generals and other commanders have made it clear that they are operating on a significantly slower clock than officials in Washington, who are eager for significant withdrawals before the president leaves office in January 2009.

In an interview in Baghdad on Thursday, General Odierno, the senior United States ground commander, said any withdrawal of American troops was not advisable until December, “at a minimum.”

Even then, he said, redeployments should be carried out slowly, to avoid jeopardizing security gains.

General Odierno, who has pushed for extending the troop increase into next year, noted that units were in place or available to continue that effort through next April.

But the ideas under discussion, from the National Security Council to the Pentagon, envision reductions beginning well before then. The last time American troop levels in Iraq were anywhere near 100,000 was in January 2004, when they fell briefly to about 108,000.

One of the ideas, officials say, would be to reduce the current 20 American combat brigades to about 10, which would be completed between the spring of 2008 and the end of the year.

Several administration officials said they hoped that if such a reduction were under way in the midst of the presidential campaign, it would shift the debate from whether American forces should be pulled out by a specific deadline — the current argument consuming Washington — to what kind of long-term presence the United States should have in Iraq.

“It stems from a recognition that the current level of forces aren’t sustainable in Iraq, they aren’t sustainable in the region, and they will be increasingly unsustainable here at home,” said one administration official who has taken part in the closed-door discussions.

But other officials in Washington cautioned that any drawdown could be jeopardized by a major outbreak of new violence. Vice President Dick Cheney and others might argue that even beginning a withdrawal would embolden elements of Al Qaeda and the Shiite militias that have recently appeared to go underground.

Missing from much of the current discussion is talk about the success of democracy in Iraq, officials say, or even of the passage of reconciliation measures that Mr. Bush said in January that the troop increase would allow to take place. In interviews, many senior administration and military officials said they now doubted that those political gains, even if achieved, would significantly reduce the violence.

The officials cautioned that no firm plans have emerged from the discussions. But they said the proposals being developed envision a far smaller but long-term American presence, centering on three or four large bases around Iraq. Mr. Bush has told recent visitors to the White House that he was seeking a model similar to the American presence in South Korea.

Both Mr. Bush and Secretary Gates appeared to allude to the new ideas at separate news conferences on Thursday, though they were careful not to be specific about how or when what they are terming the post-surge phase would begin.

Mr. Gates described the administration’s goal of eventually shifting the mission in Iraq to one that is “more to train, equip, continue to go after Al Qaeda and provide support.” Such a mission, he noted, “clearly would involve fewer forces than we have now.”

Any change of course “is going to be the president’s decision,” Mr. Gates said, but one greatly influenced by assessments from General Petraeus and the new American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, who are to provide an assessment of the situation in September. Mr. Gates also referred to “the possible need for some kind of residual force in Iraq for some protracted period of time.”

A rapid transfer of responsibility to Iraqi forces and withdrawal to large bases was attempted in 2005 and 2006, with disastrous results when the Iraqi units proved incapable of halting major attacks, and sectarian violence worsened.

“We’ve been here before,” General Odierno said in the interview, referring to the decisions that are coming up on how quickly to hand over authority to Iraqi units. “We’ve rushed the transition and soon lost many areas that we had before. This time it’s about having enough combat power to stay.”

But what is different now is the political environment in the United States. While Democrats in Congress relented this week and dropped demands to attach a schedule for withdrawal to a bill to finance military efforts in Iraq, White House officials concede that they have bought a few months, at best.

By the fall, they say, they are likely to lose several Republican senators and many members of the House who voted with Mr. Bush in recent weeks.

During his own news conference, Mr. Bush referred on four separate occasions to the report of the Iraq Study Group, headed by the former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and the former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton.

That report, about which Mr. Bush appeared distinctly unenthusiastic when it was issued in December, called for the withdrawal of all American combat troops by the end of March 2008. Mr. Gates was a member of the study group, though he resigned to take up his current post before the report was written.

David E. Sanger reported from Washington and David S. Cloud from Baghda
25952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 26, 2007, 06:56:57 AM
Mosques awarded Homeland Security grants
Posted: May 25, 2007 1:00 a.m. Eastern | © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

While the European Union investigates mosques for ties to Islamic terrorism, the U.S. government is giving mosques security grants that are designed to protect churches, synagogues and other nonprofit groups from Islamic terror.

Most recently, the Islamic Society of Baltimore landed a $15,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to upgrade security at its Maryland mosque.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations since April has been urging leaders of mosques and Islamic schools across the nation to apply for the DHS grants, even though the agency's program was set up to help protect nonprofit facilities that are at high risk for attacks by Islamic terrorists.
CAIR encouraged its Muslim members to take advantage of $24 million in federal funds DHS has made available – specifically, DHS says, for nonprofit organizations "deemed high-risk for a potential international terrorist attack."

Organizations in 46 urban areas designated high risk for Islamic terror attack are eligible to participate in the new Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

The CAIR alert issued April 29 to Muslim members reads as follows: "ACTION REQUESTED: All eligible 501(c)(3) American mosques and other Islamic institutions are urged to begin the application process to receive training and to purchase equipment such as video cameras, alarm systems and other security enhancements."

Several Islamic institutions already have applied and are receiving government approval.

U.S. officials who spoke to WND on condition of anonymity expressed dismay that CAIR would drain limited federal funds away from higher risk targets for terrorism. They argue mosques are among the lowest risk for such attacks.

In fact, a number of mosques across the nation actually have promoted Islamic terrorism and have been tied to Islamic terrorists, including the large Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Washington, where some of the 9/11 hijackers received spiritual guidance, as well as help obtaining housing and IDs.

Terrorism experts note some 80 percent of U.S. mosques are funded and controlled through the Saudi Arabian government.

"Mosques have tended to serve as safe havens and meeting points for Islamic terrorist groups," said terror expert Steve Emerson. "Of course, we are not referring to all mosques, but there are at least 40 episodes of extremists and terrorists being connected to mosques in the past decade."
Meanwhile, European Union security officials earlier this month announced they will analyze member-state mosques, examining the training and funding sources of imams, in a project to be completed by fall.
Even in the wake of 9/11, remarkably, U.S. authorities have yet to conduct any similar sweeping investigation of the nation's 2,000 mosques. There also has been no nationwide effort to identify Muslim clerics who preach terrorism, even as an alarming number of imams have been caught up in separate terrorism investigations.

Law enforcement sources blame the hesitancy on political pressure applied by Washington-based CAIR, which sits on the FBI's community advisory board and routinely lodges complaints about case agents who question mosque leaders and followers. The bureau seldom makes a raid in the Muslim community without first contacting CAIR officials.

CAIR claims mosques have been victims of "terrorist" attacks since 9/11, which the group says triggered a backlash of "Islamophobic" vigilantism. When pressed, the group cites only scattered cases of vandalism, however, many of which the FBI has investigated and ruled out as "hate crimes."

No mosque in America has suffered a bombing attack, and there are no examples of international Muslim terrorists attacking mosques in America – the whole point of DHS' target-hardening grant program.

CAIR itself has had ties to terrorism. The nonprofit lobby group is a foreign-funded spin-off of a Hamas front group, and it has seen several of its executives convicted of terror-related crimes since 9/11.
25953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Algerian Women on: May 26, 2007, 06:40:55 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/26/world/africa/26algeria.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

ALGIERS, May 25 — In this tradition-bound nation scarred by a brutal Islamist-led civil war that killed more than 100,000, a quiet revolution is under way: women are emerging as an economic and political force unheard of in the rest of the Arab world.


Algerian Women’s Growing Participation in Society
Women make up 70 percent of Algeria’s lawyers and 60 percent of its judges. Women dominate medicine. Increasingly, women contribute more to household income than men. Sixty percent of university students are women, university researchers say.

In a region where women have a decidedly low public profile, Algerian women are visible everywhere. They are starting to drive buses and taxicabs. They pump gas and wait on tables.

Although men still hold all of the formal levers of power and women still make up only 20 percent of the work force, that is more than twice their share a generation ago, and they seem to be taking over the machinery of state as well.

“If such a trend continues,” said Daho Djerbal, editor and publisher of Naqd, a magazine of social criticism and analysis, “we will see a new phenomenon where our public administration will also be controlled by women.”

The change seems to have sneaked up on Algerians, who for years have focused more on the struggle between a governing party trying to stay in power and Islamists trying to take that power.

Those who study the region say they are taken aback by the data but suggest that an explanation may lie in the educational system and the labor market.

University studies are no longer viewed as a credible route toward a career or economic well-being, and so men may well opt out and try to find work or to simply leave the country, suggested Hugh Roberts, a historian and the North Africa project director of the International Crisis Group.

But for women, he added, university studies get them out of the house and allow them to position themselves better in society. “The dividend may be social rather than in terms of career,” he said.

This generation of Algerian women has navigated a path between the secular state and the pull of extremist Islam, the two poles of the national crisis of recent years.

The women are more religious than previous generations, and more modern, sociologists here said. Women cover their heads and drape their bodies with traditional Islamic coverings. They pray. They go to the mosque — and they work, often alongside men, once considered taboo.

Sociologists and many working women say that by adopting religion and wearing the Islamic head covering called the hijab, women here have in effect freed themselves from moral judgments and restrictions imposed by men. Uncovered women are rarely seen on the street late at night, but covered women can be seen strolling the city after attending the evening prayer at a mosque.

“They never criticize me, especially when they see I am wearing the hijab,” said Denni Fatiha, 44, the first woman to drive a large city bus through the narrow, winding roads of Algiers.

The impact has been far-reaching and profound.

In some neighborhoods, for example, birthrates appear to have fallen and class sizes in elementary schools have dropped by nearly half. It appears that women are delaying marriage to complete their studies, though delayed marriage is also a function of high unemployment. In the past, women typically married at 17 or 18 but now marry on average at 29, sociologists said.

And when they marry, it is often to men who are far less educated, creating an awkward social reality for many women.

Khalida Rahman is a lawyer. She is 33 and has been married to a night watchman for five months. Her husband was a friend of her brothers who showed up one day and proposed. She immediately said yes, she recalled.

She describes her life now this way: “Whenever I leave him it is just as if I am a man. But when I get home I become a woman.”

Fatima Oussedik, a sociologist, said, “We in the ’60s, we were progressive, but we did not achieve what is being achieved by this generation today.” Ms. Oussedik, who works for the Research Center for Applied Economics and Development in Algiers, does not wear the hijab and prefers to speak in French.

Researchers here say the change is not driven by demographics; women make up only a bit more than half of the population. They said it is driven by desire and opportunity.

================



Published: May 26, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)



Algeria’s young men reject school and try to earn money as traders in the informal sector, selling goods on the street, or they focus their efforts on leaving the country or just hanging out. There is a whole class of young men referred to as hittistes — the word is a combination of French and Arabic for people who hold up walls.

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Algerian Women’s Growing Participation in Society
Increasingly, the people here have lost faith in their government, which draws its legitimacy from a revolution now more than five decades old, many political and social analysts said. In recent parliamentary elections, turnout was low and there were 970,000 protest votes — cast by people who intentionally destroyed their ballots — nearly as many as the 1.3 million votes cast in support of the governing party.

There are regular protests, and riots, all over the country, with people complaining about corruption, lack of services and economic disparities. There are violent attacks, too: bombings aimed at the police, officials and foreigners. A triple suicide bombing on April 11 against the prime minister’s office and the police left more than 30 people dead.

In that context, women may have emerged as Algeria’s most potent force for social change, with their presence in the bureaucracy and on the street having a potentially moderating and modernizing influence on society, sociologists said.

“Women, and the women’s movement, could be leading us to modernity,” said Abdel Nasser Djabi, a professor of sociology at the University of Algiers.

Not everyone is happy with those dynamics. Some political and social analysts say the recent resurgence in radical Islamist activity, including bombings, is driven partly by a desire to slow the social change the country is experiencing, especially regarding women’s role in society.

Others complain that the growing participation of women in society is a direct violation of the faith.

“I am against this,” said Esmail Ben Ibrahim, an imam at a neighborhood mosque near the center of the city. “It is all wrong from a religious point of view. Society has embarked on the wrong path.”

The quest for identity is a constant undercurrent in much of the Middle East. But it is arguably the most complicated question in Algeria, a nation whose borders were drawn by France and whose people speak Berber, Arabic and French.

After a bitter experience with French occupation and a seven-year revolutionary war that brought independence in 1962 at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, the leaders here chose to adopt Islam and Arab identity as the force to unify the country. Arabic replaced French as the language of education, and the French secular curriculum was replaced with a curriculum heavy on religion.

At the same time, girls were encouraged to go to school.

Now, more than four decades later, Algeria’s youth — 70 percent of the population is under 30, researchers said — have grown up with Arabic and an orientation toward Middle Eastern issues. Arabic-language television networks like Al Jazeera have become the popular reference point, more so than French television, observers here said.

In the 1990s radical Islamist ideas gained popular support, and terrorism was widely accepted as a means to win power. More than 100,000 people died in years of civil conflict. Today most people say the experience has forced them to reject the most radical ideas. So although Algerians are more religious now than they were during the bloody 1990s, they are more likely to embrace modernity — a partial explanation for the emergence of women as a societal force, some analysts said.

That is not the case in more rural mountainous areas, where women continue to live by the code of tradition. But for the time being, most people say that for now the community’s collective consciousness is simply too raw from the years of civil war for Islamist terrorists or radical Islamic ideas to gain popular support.

There is a sense that the new room given to women may at least partly be a reflection of that general feeling. The population has largely rejected the most radical interpretation of Islam and has begun to return to the more North African, almost mystical, interpretation of the faith, sociologists and religious leaders said.

Whatever the underlying reason, women in the streets of the city are brimming with enthusiasm.

“I don’t think any of this contradicts Islam,” said Wahiba Nabti, 36, as she walked through the center of the city one day recently. “On the contrary, Islam gives freedom to work. Anyway, it is between you and God.”

Ms. Nabti wore a black scarf covering her head and a long black gown that hid the shape of her body. “I hope one day I can drive a crane, so I can really be financially independent,” she said. “You cannot always rely on a man.”
25954  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 26, 2007, 06:14:35 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-soldiers26may26,1,2186023.story?coll=la-headlines-world

LA Times
Mexico's drug war takes toll on army
Since December, 89 soldiers have been reported killed. They're among 1,000 narcotics-related deaths this year.
By Carlos Martinez and Sam Enriquez, Times Staff Writers
May 26, 2007


MEXICO CITY — The number of Mexican soldiers slain has jumped dramatically since President Felipe Calderon began using the army to battle drug traffickers, records show.

Since December, when Calderon began the campaign, 89 soldiers have been reported killed, compared with less than a dozen from January through November of 2006, according to army records provided to The Times.

The escalation of attacks on soldiers has come as 12,700 troops man roadside checkpoints and patrol cities in nine Mexican states where rival drug gangs battle for control of ports, roads and other smuggling routes.

The Mexican army reported that troops slain since December included 27 soldiers on duty and 37 off duty. The circumstances of 25 more deaths remain under investigation.

Calderon dispatched the army, along with several thousand federal police officers, shortly after taking office because of concerns that incompetence and corruption had hampered local and state police and judges in combating well-financed drug gangs.

More than 2,000 killings last year were reportedly drug-related.

The killings of troops include the ambush of five men, including a colonel, in Michoacan state this month. In April, authorities found the bodies of three soldiers bearing signs of torture. A message next to the bodies said, "Whoever gets involved will die."

The troop deaths are among more than 1,000 killings so far this year attributed to drug violence, according to tallies by Mexican newspapers. The government doesn't keep an official count.

Calderon's failure to slow the violence has drawn criticism from opposition parties, which have called on him to revise his military strategy. The president said Thursday during a speech in the state of Durango that he was not ready to change course.

"Organized crime wants to scare the Mexican people," Calderon said. "It wants to scare the Mexican people so that the government crosses its arms and they go unpunished. They want us to retreat…. Our stance is clear: not a step backward."

Army salaries have gone up slightly, but pay for the lowest ranks begins at about $2,460 a year, plus room, board, uniforms and medical care. Generals are paid between $8,000 and $10,000 a year.

The government pays the funeral expenses of slain soldiers and also provides a lump sum equal to 40 months' pay to their immediate families.

The families also continue to collect the monthly salaries of slain soldiers and are entitled to full medical coverage at military hospitals and clinics, as well as discounts at three luxury hotel chains.
25955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: May 26, 2007, 06:02:19 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-nuclear26may26,1,754545.story?coll=la-headlines-world
Arabs make plans for nuclear power
Iran's program appears to be stirring interest that some fear will lead to a scramble for atomic weapons in the volatile region.
By Bob Drogin and Borzou Daragahi, LA Times Staff Writers
May 26, 2007



VIENNA — As Iran races ahead with an illicit uranium enrichment effort, nearly a dozen other Middle East nations are moving forward on their own civilian nuclear programs. In the latest development, a team of eight U.N. experts on Friday ended a weeklong trip to Saudi Arabia to provide nuclear guidance to officials from six Persian Gulf countries.

Diplomats and analysts view the Saudi trip as the latest sign that Iran's suspected weapons program has helped spark a chain reaction of nuclear interest among its Arab rivals, which some fear will lead to a scramble for atomic weapons in the world's most volatile region.

The International Atomic Energy Agency sent the team of nuclear experts to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to advise the Gulf Cooperation Council on building nuclear energy plants. Together, the council members — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the seven sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates — control nearly half the world's known oil reserves.

Other nations that have said they plan to construct civilian nuclear reactors or have sought technical assistance and advice from the IAEA, the Vienna-based United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, in the last year include Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen, as well as several North African nations.

None of the governments has disclosed plans to build nuclear weapons. But Iran's 18-year secret nuclear effort and its refusal to comply with current U.N. Security Council demands have raised concerns that the Arab world will decide it needs to counter a potentially nuclear-armed Iran. The same equipment can enrich uranium to fuel civilian reactors or, in time and with further enrichment, atomic bombs.

"There is no doubt that countries around the gulf are worried … about whether Iran is seeking nuclear weapons," Gregory L. Schulte, the U.S. representative to U.N. agencies in Vienna, said in an interview. "They're worried about whether it will prompt a nuclear arms race in the region, which would be to no one's benefit."

The United States has long supported the spread of peaceful nuclear energy under strict international safeguards. Schulte said Washington's diplomatic focus remained on stopping Iran before it could produce fuel for nuclear weapons, rather than on trying to restrict nations from developing nuclear power for generating electricity.

But those empowered to monitor and regulate civilian nuclear programs around the world are worried. Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the IAEA, warned Thursday that the surge of interest in sensitive nuclear technology raised the risk of weapons proliferation. Without singling out any nation, he cautioned that some governments might insist on enriching their own uranium to ensure a steady supply of reactor fuel.

"The concern is that by mastering the fuel cycle, countries move dangerously close to nuclear weapons capability," ElBaradei told a disarmament conference in Luxembourg.

Iran is the obvious case in point. Tehran this week defied another U.N. Security Council deadline by which it was to freeze its nuclear program. The IAEA reported that Iran instead was accelerating uranium enrichment without having yet built the reactors that would need the nuclear fuel. At the same time, the IAEA complained, Iran's diminishing cooperation had made it impossible to confirm Tehran's claims that the program is only for peaceful purposes.

That has unnerved Iran's neighbors as well as members of the Security Council.

"We have the right if the Iranians are going to insist on their right to develop their civilian nuclear program," said Mustafa Alani, a security expert at the Gulf Research Center, a think tank based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "We tell the Iranians, 'We have no problem with you developing civilian nuclear energy, but if you're going to turn your nuclear program into a weapons program, we'll do the same.' "

Iran sought to rally Arab support for its nuclear program at the World Economic Forum meeting of business and political leaders this month in Jordan.

"Iran will be a partner, a brotherly partner, and will share its capabilities with the people of the region," Mohammed J.A. Larijani, a former deputy foreign minister, told reporters.

Arab officials were cool to his approach, however, and openly questioned Iran's intentions.

The IAEA team's weeklong foray to Saudi Arabia followed ElBaradei's visit to the kingdom in April. The Gulf Cooperation Council plans to present the results of its study on developing nuclear plants to the leaders of council nations in the Omani capital of Muscat in December.

"They don't say it, but everyone can see that [Iran] is at least one of the reasons behind the drive to obtaining the nuclear technology," said Salem Ahmad Sahab, a professor of political science at King Abdulaziz University in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. "If the neighbors are capable of obtaining the technology, why not them?"

Officially, leaders of the Arab gulf states say they are eager to close a technology gap with Iran, as well as with Israel, which operates two civilian reactors and is widely believed to have built at least 80 nuclear warheads since the 1960s. Israel does not acknowledge its nuclear arsenal under a policy aimed at deterring regional foes while avoiding an arms race.

Advocates argue that the gulf states need nuclear energy despite their vast oil and natural gas reserves.

The region's growing economies suffer occasional summer power outages, and the parched climate makes the nations there susceptible to water shortages, which can be offset by the energy-intensive processing of seawater.


=======================

The promising future of nuclear energy in electricity generation and desalination can make it a source for meeting increasing needs," Abdulrahman Attiya, the Kuwaiti head of the Gulf Cooperation Council, told the group this week in Riyadh.

Attiya also cited long-term economic and environmental advantages to nuclear energy.

"A large part of Gulf Cooperation Council oil and gas products can be used for export in light of expected high prices and demand," he said. "It will also help to limit the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the gulf region."

It remains unclear how many countries will carry through on ambitious and enormously expensive nuclear projects. In some cases, analysts say, the nuclear announcements may be intended for domestic prestige, and as a signal to Iran that others intend to check its emergence as a regional power. As a result, some analysts say fears of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East are overblown.

"Those who caricature what's going on as Sunni concern about a Shiite bomb are really oversimplifying the case," said Martin Malin, a nuclear expert at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, referring to Sunni Muslim-led Arab countries and Shiite Muslim-led Iran.

Aggressive international monitoring, he contended, could ensure that nuclear energy programs don't secretly morph into weapons capabilities.

"If what Jordan is really concerned about is energy, and the U.S. is concerned about weapons, all kinds of oversight can be provided," Malin said.

A Russian diplomat here similarly cautioned that Iran's influence on other nations' nuclear plans might be overstated. "I should be very cautious about any connection between these two things," he said. "We don't deny that even Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear activities."

Although enthusiasm for prospective nuclear programs appears strongest in the Middle East, governments elsewhere have displayed interest in atomic power after years of decline in the industry that followed the 1979 reactor accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the far worse 1986 radiation leak at Chernobyl in Ukraine. About 30 countries operate nuclear reactors for energy, and that number seems certain to grow.

"There's certainly a renaissance of interest," said an IAEA official who works on the issue. "And there's likely to be a renaissance in construction over the next few decades."

IAEA officials say the largest growth in nuclear power is likely to occur in China, India, Russia, the United States and South Africa, with Argentina, Finland and France following close behind. The United States has 103 operating plants, more than any other country, and as many as 31 additional plants are under consideration or have begun the regulatory process.

And there are other nations in line. Oil-rich Nigeria and Indonesia are preparing to build nuclear plants. Belarus and Vietnam have approached the IAEA for advice. Algeria signed a deal with Russia in January on possible nuclear cooperation. Morocco and Poland are said to be considering nuclear power. Myanmar disclosed plans to purchase a Russian research reactor.

Even Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries, has expressed interest.

"When Sudan shows up, we say, 'You're in a real early stage and here's what you need. A law. Get people trained. Build roads. And so on,' " the IAEA official said.

So far, the nuclear programs around Iran are in the early planning stages. Alani, the security expert in Dubai, said most of the nations in the region were scoping out the possibilities but had made no final decisions or begun constructing facilities.

"They feel it's a right and significant move at least to put [their] foot in the door of civilian nuclear energy," he said. "It's not a race, not yet."

===============
Going nuclear

Unlike Iran, most of the countries that have recently begun exploring or setting up nuclear programs are staunch allies of the U.S., often with strong military and political ties to Washington. A sampling of some regional nations' plans:

Yemen

Seeks to join the Gulf Cooperation Council's nuclear project.

Egypt

Plans to revive a nuclear energy program it abandoned two decades ago.

Turkey

Plans to build three nuclear power plants along the Black Sea coast.

Jordan

Plans to pursue a nuclear energy program.

Tunisia

Plans to build its first nuclear power plant by 2020.

Source: Bob Drogin, Times staff writer



25956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 26, 2007, 05:50:28 AM
Doug:

Amazing how this CBO study received absolutely no coverage and amazing that the Republicans have not made use of it.

Perhaps Newt Gingrich, who certainly had a big hand in the welfare reform, will use it if  wink he runs , , ,

Marc
25957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tawfik Harrid on Jihad Watch on: May 25, 2007, 09:48:58 PM
Tawfik Hamid speaks truth to power in the usually reliably dhimmi Wall Street Journal, echoing points we have often made here:
To bring an end to Islamophobia, we must employ a holistic approach that treats the core of the disease. It will not suffice to merely suppress the symptoms. It is imperative to adopt new Islamic teachings that do not allow killing apostates (Redda Law). Islamic authorities must provide mainstream Islamic books that forbid polygamy and beating women.

Accepted Islamic doctrine should take a strong stand against slavery and the raping of female war prisoners, as happens in Darfur under the explicit canons of Shariah ("Ma Malakat Aimanikum"). Muslims should teach, everywhere and universally, that a woman's testimony in court counts as much as a man's, that women should not be punished if they marry whom they please or dress as they wish.

We Muslims should publicly show our strong disapproval for the growing number of attacks by Muslims against other faiths and against other Muslims. Let us not even dwell on 9/11, Madrid, London, Bali and countless other scenes of carnage. It has been estimated that of the two million refugees fleeing Islamic terror in Iraq, 40% are Christian, and many of them seek a haven in Lebanon, where the Christian population itself has declined by 60%. Even in Turkey, Islamists recently found it necessary to slit the throats of three Christians for publishing Bibles.

Of course, Islamist attacks are not limited to Christians and Jews. Why do we hear no Muslim condemnation of the ongoing slaughter of Buddhists in Thailand by Islamic groups? Why was there silence over the Mumbai train bombings which took the lives of over 200 Hindus in 2006? We must not forget that innocent Muslims, too, are suffering. Indeed, the most common murderers of Muslims are, and have always been, other Muslims. Where is the Muslim outcry over the Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq?

Islamophobia could end when masses of Muslims demonstrate in the streets against videos displaying innocent people being beheaded with the same vigor we employ against airlines, Israel and cartoons of Muhammad. It might cease when Muslims unambiguously and publicly insist that Shariah law should have no binding legal status in free, democratic societies.

It is well past time that Muslims cease using the charge of "Islamophobia" as a tool to intimidate and blackmail those who speak up against suspicious passengers and against those who rightly criticize current Islamic practices and preachings. Instead, Muslims must engage in honest and humble introspection. Muslims should--must--develop strategies to rescue our religion by combating the tyranny of Salafi Islam and its dreadful consequences. Among more important outcomes, this will also put an end to so-called Islamophobia.
25958  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB in the media on: May 25, 2007, 07:15:44 PM
I agree about the risks of the chairs.  I guess I was thinking more in terms of what looked like a hand held vacuum cleaner that I saw in one of those ciips.  IIRC you followed up nicely with a low kick.
25959  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB in the media on: May 25, 2007, 06:35:56 PM
Will you be bringing a vacuum cleaner (or anything else intriguing) to the Gathering?  If so please post on the Gathering thread.
25960  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 25, 2007, 05:51:12 PM
"some of the knife fights got a little out of control"

Now that's an understatement!!!  I would say that out of all the fights only a handful of times did we see a fighter not get "killed"-- usually several times.

Maybe its time to pull out my old trick of waving a live blade around the faces of the fighters during the Magic Words Talk. evil grin
25961  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 25, 2007, 05:39:30 PM

He aqui el articulo del Los Angeles Times, primera pagina:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico25may25,1,3049437.story?coll=la-headlines-world

Mexico to boost tapping of phones and e-mail with U.S. aid
Calderon is seeking to expand monitoring of drug gangs; Washington also may have access to the data.
By Sam Enriquez, Times Staff Writer
May 25, 2007

- LA PLAZA: News, observations and links about Latin America from Times correspondents
MEXICO CITY — Mexico is expanding its ability to tap telephone calls and e-mail using money from the U.S. government, a move that underlines how the country's conservative government is increasingly willing to cooperate with the United States on law enforcement.

The expansion comes as President Felipe Calderon is pushing to amend the Mexican Constitution to allow officials to tap phones without a judge's approval in some cases. Calderon argues that the government needs the authority to combat drug gangs, which have killed hundreds of people this year.

Mexican authorities for years have been able to wiretap most telephone conversations and tap into e-mail, but the new $3-million Communications Intercept System being installed by Mexico's Federal Investigative Agency will expand their reach.

The system will allow authorities to track cellphone users as they travel, according to contract specifications. It includes extensive storage capacity and will allow authorities to identify callers by voice. The system, scheduled to begin operation this month, was paid for by the U.S. State Department and sold by Verint Systems Inc., a politically well-connected firm based in Melville, N.Y., that specializes in electronic surveillance.

Although information about the system is publicly available, the matter has drawn little attention so far in the United States or Mexico. The modernization program is described in U.S. government documents, including the contract specifications, reviewed by The Times.

They suggest that Washington could have access to information derived from the surveillance. Officials of both governments declined to comment on that possibility.

"It is a government of Mexico operation funded by the U.S.," said Susan Pittman, of the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Queries should be directed to the Mexican government, she said.

Calderon's office declined to comment.

But the contract specifications say the system is designed to allow both governments to "disseminate timely and accurate, actionable information to each country's respective federal, state, local, private and international partners."

Calderon has been lobbying for more authority to use electronic surveillance against drug violence, which has threatened his ability to govern. Despite federal troops posted in nine Mexican states, the violence continues as rival smugglers fight over shipping routes to the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as for control of Mexican port cities and inland marijuana and poppy growing regions.

Nonetheless, the prospect of U.S. involvement in surveillance could be extremely sensitive in Mexico, where the United States historically has been viewed by many as a bullying and intrusive neighbor. U.S. government agents working in Mexico maintain a low profile to spare their government hosts any political fallout.

It's unclear how broad a net the new surveillance system will cast: Mexicans speak regularly by phone, for example, with millions of relatives living in the U.S. Those conversations appear to be fair game for both governments.

Legal experts say that prosecutors with access to Mexican wiretaps could use the information in U.S. courts. U.S. Supreme Court decisions have held that 4th Amendment protections against illegal wiretaps do not apply outside the United States, particularly if the surveillance is conducted by another country, Georgetown University law professor David Cole said.

Mexico's telecommunications monopoly, Telmex, controlled by Carlos Slim Helu, the world's second-wealthiest individual, has not received official notice of the new system, which will intercept its electronic signals, a spokeswoman said this week.

"Telmex is a firm that always complies with laws and rules set by the Mexican government," she said.

Calderon recently asked Mexico's Congress to amend the country's constitution and allow federal prosecutors free rein to conduct searches and secretly record conversations among people suspected of what the government defines as serious crimes.

His proposal would eliminate the current legal requirement that prosecutors gain approval from a judge before installing any wiretap, the vetting process that will for now govern use of the new system's intercepts. Calderon says the legal changes are needed to turn the tide in the battle against the drug gangs.

"The purpose is to create swift investigative measures against organized crime," Calderon wrote senators when introducing his proposed constitutional amendments in March. "At times, turning to judicial authorities hinders or makes investigations impossible."

But others argued that the proposed changes would undermine constitutional protections and open the door to the type of domestic spying that has plagued many Latin American countries. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe last week ousted a dozen generals, including the head of intelligence, after police were found to be wiretapping public figures, including members of his government.

"Calderon's proposal is limited to 'urgent cases' and organized crime, but the problem is that when the judiciary has been put out of the loop, the attorney general can basically decide these however he wants to," said John Ackerman, a law professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "Without the intervention of a judge, the door swings wide open to widespread abuse of basic civil liberties."

The proposal is being considered by a panel of the Mexican Senate. It is strongly opposed by members of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. Members of Calderon's National Action Party have been lobbying senators from the former ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, for support.

Renato Sales, a former deputy prosecutor for Mexico City, said Calderon's desire to expand federal policing powers to combat organized crime was parallel to the Bush administration's use of a secret wiretapping program to fight terrorism.

"Suddenly anyone suspected of organized crime is presumed guilty and treated as someone without any constitutional rights," said Sales, now a law professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. "And who will determine who is an organized crime suspect? The state will."

Federal lawmaker Cesar Octavio Camacho, president of the justice and human rights commission in the lower house of Congress, said he too worried about prosecutorial abuse.

"Although the proposal stems from the president's noble intention of efficiently fighting organized crime," he said, "the remedy seems worse than the problem."

*


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
sam.enriquez@latimes.com

Carlos Martínez and Cecilia Sánchez of The Times' Mexico City Bureau and Times staff writer Henry Weinstein in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
25962  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 25, 2007, 02:56:27 PM
Gracias Jose por su analyis/resumen de la situacion.

Veo en el pereiodico esa manana que Mexico sera' compartiendo con el gobierno Estadounidense lo que oiga en las llamadas hecho en Mexico.  Eso no se habra' visto hace unos pocos anos.



25963  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 25, 2007, 02:48:33 PM
Tom Stillman just mentioned in the DB in the media thread that he will be bringing a "swing blade", and C-Cyborg (no current internet access) has asked me to post that he has a whip which he would like to try.  Post here if you are interested.

Any other off the beaten path items we will be seeing?
25964  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring/fighting with bladed weapons on: May 25, 2007, 09:39:06 AM
All:

I'd like to interject here about the words "sparring" and "fighting".

Over the years some people in an effort to dimish what we do have called what we do "sparring" and not "fighting".  I readily admit to this being a bit of a pet peeve of mine.  By the standards of other things that are called fights (boxing, kickboxing, MMA, etc) what we do is fight, not spar.

In that the conversation here in great part is about what we sometimes playfully call "sport knife dueling" done in a training hall context, the word "sparring" is often more accurate that "fighting", but IMHO I dislike the word sparring for what happens at a Gathering.

JMHO,
CD
25965  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring with bladed weapons on: May 25, 2007, 08:06:29 AM
Excellent post CWS!

To clarify, my comment about aluminun training blades was directed exclusively towards occasional high adrenal days like a DB Gathering.  Also, we continue to explore the Shocknife.

I agree entirely that the NOK trainers are quite good.  As a matter of fact, after the Gathering my intention is to look into us carrying them here on this website.

Yip!
CD
25966  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Baltic Dog and the Bay Area clan on: May 24, 2007, 11:37:04 PM
http://video.nbc11.com/player/?id=111120
25967  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring with bladed weapons on: May 24, 2007, 11:16:42 PM
I think aluminum training blades  and the pain they can generate and the risk of hand breaks that they entail has some merit , , ,
25968  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 24, 2007, 06:07:00 PM
Hola Jose':

!Bienvenidos!

Lo que paso' aqui' es que una falla tecnologica borro' unos anos de hilos en este foro y pedimos la velocidad que teniamos.  Ahora se le hace falta al foro mucha contribucion en espanol y estoy reducido al contribuir muchas cosas en ingles.  Espero que sean de interes a personas como tu.

Tambien, que bueno que trabajes en proteccion ejecutivo.  Ojala que compartas con nosotros tu perspectiva aqui tanto como quieras.   Si quieres, comienza con tu ideas sobre lo que esta' diciendo Stratfor sobre la situacion en Mexico.  Segun ellos los narcotraficantes son creciendo en su potencia hasta que ahora son una verdadera amenaza al bienestar del ejericto y a la mera estado.

!La Aventura continua!
Crafty Dog

PD:  Agradezco cualquiera ayuda con mi espanol que me brinde.  smiley
25969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Capt Zembiec, part two on: May 24, 2007, 05:56:34 PM

 
From the LAT
The Unapologetic Warrior In Iraq, a Marine Corps Captain Is Living Out His Heart's Desire By Tony Perry.  Tony Perry is The Times' San Diego bureau chief. He last wrote for the magazine about reporting from Iraq. August 22, 2004 Anyone who prefers that their military officers follow the media-enforced ideal of being diffident, silent about their feelings, unwilling to talk about their combat experience and troubled by the violence of their chosen profession should skip this story. Marine Corps Capt. Douglas Zembiec is none of these things. Zembiec, an All-American wrestler and 1995 graduate of the Naval Academy, is the charismatic commander of Echo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division. During the monthlong battle in Iraq earlier this year for the Sunni Triangle city of Fallouja, no combat unit did more fighting and bleeding than Echo Company, and during it all—from the opening assault to the final retreat ordered by the White House -— Zembiec led from the front. He took on the most dangerous missions himself, was wounded by shrapnel, repeatedly dared the enemy to attack his Marines, then wrote heartfelt letters to the families of those who were killed in combat, and won the respect of his troops and his bosses. It was the time of his life, he acknowledged later, for by his own definition Zembiec is a warrior, and a joyful one.  He is neither bellicose nor apologetic: War means killing, and killing means winning. War and killing are not only necessary on occasion, they're also noble. "From day one, I've told [my troops] that killing is not wrong if it's for a purpose, if it's to keep your nation free or to protect your buddy," he said. "One of the most noble things you can do is kill the enemy." For his Marines, Zembiec asks for respect, not sympathy, even as one-third of his 150-man company became casualties. "Marines are violent by nature -- that's what makes us different," he said. "These young Marines didn't enlist to get money to go to college. They joined the Marines to be part of a legacy."

He knows talk like that puts him outside mainstream America and scares the bejabbers out of some people. Modern America is uncomfortable with celebrating those who have gone to war and killed their nation's enemy. Maybe it's because American military hardware is thought to be so superior that any fight with an adversary is a mismatch. Then again, people who feel that way probably have not stared at the business end of a rocket-propelled grenade launched by an insurgent hopped up on hatred for America. Or maybe, like so many attitudes of the press and public toward the military, the queasiness about unabashed combat veterans is traceable to public opposition to the Vietnam War. A cynic I know says that although Americans remember Sgt. York from World War I and Audie Murphy from World War II, the only heroes most remember from Vietnam are Colin L. Powell and John McCain. One helped fellow soldiers after a helicopter crash, the other was shot down on a mission and survived a horrendous POW experience. Neither is known for killing the enemy. An essay this spring in Proceedings, a publication of the U.S. Naval Institute, suggested that the ideal of battlefield bravery has been replaced by a culture of victimhood. Navy reservist Roger Lee Crossland wrote that Americans after Vietnam seemed to prefer "safe heroes, heroes whose conduct was largely nonviolent …. "The prisoner of war and the casualty, Crossland lamented, have replaced the battlefield leader as the ultimate hero. Take your own media reality-check. Which is seen more frequently: stories about the potential for post-traumatic stress among U.S. troops or stories about troops who have successfully carried the fight to their enemy? My association with Zembiec started with his one-word answer to a question of mine. It was April 6, the second day of the siege of Fallouja by two battalions of Marines, the "two-one," and the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, the "one-five." A Marine patrol from two-one had been fired on as it ventured just a few yards into the Jolan neighborhood, and the Marines were quickly assembling a retaliatory assault to be led by Zembiec's Echo Company. Marines were piling into assault vehicles—windowless metal boxes on treads that can, in theory, bring Marines to the edge of the fight quickly and without casualties. At the "two-one" camp, Marines were running every which way as the assault was forming up for the mile-long drive to the spot where the patrol had been ambushed. I had never met Zembiec, but by his tone and body language, he clearly was in charge. Accommodating embedded media appeared to be on no one's to-do list. "Do you have room for me?" I shouted as Zembiec rushed past. "Always," he shouted over his shoulder. I piled into one of the assault vehicles and sat next to a Marine chewing dreadful-smelling tobacco and another talking sweetly about his sister having a baby. The ride was bumpy beyond belief; bumpy and scary as continuous gunfire from insurgents pelted the sides of our vehicle with an ominous plink-plink-plink sound. The vehicles finally rumbled to a halt in a dusty field just a few hundred yards from a row of houses where the insurgents were barricaded. The insurgents stepped up their fire from AK-47s, punctuated with rocket-propelled grenades. The Marines rushed out the rear hatch, quickly fanned out and began returning fire with M-16s as they ran directly toward the enemy. Zembiec was in the lead. "Let's go!" he yelled. "Keep it moving, keep it moving!" The battle for Fallouja had begun in earnest, and Zembiec was in the forefront, practicing the profession that's been his heart's desire since childhood. I saw Zembiec periodically over the next weeks. He was supremely quotable and candid. By nature -- and under orders from the commanding general -- Marine officers try to be helpful to the press. Zembiec went a step further. He took time even when time was short. Even when circumstances were grim -- as when a "short round" from a mortar killed two Marines and injured nine others—he was upbeat. His enthusiasm and confidence were infectious. At 31, he still retains a slight boyishness. Like many Marine officers, he has thought a great deal about his profession, its role in the world, and the nature of men in combat. He leans forward when giving answers and looks directly at his questioner. He has a rock -- solid belief in the efficacy of the American mission in Iraq. He seemed to genuinely like talking to reporters, telling them of the successes of his Marines, his plans to push the insurgents to the Euphrates River and force them to surrender or die. It was not to be. After a month in Fallouja, with the prospect of even bloodier combat to come, including civilian casualties, politicians in Baghdad and Washington called for a retreat just as the Marines seemed to be on the verge of success. Political concerns had trumped tactical ones. After Echo Company—and Fox and Golf companies—had withdrawn from frontline positions, Zembiec reflected on what had occurred. In measured tones, without boasting, he sat under a camouflage net in a dusty spot outside Fallouja and answered all questions, and invited reporters to his parents' home in New Mexico for a barbecue. As the Iraqi sun began its daily assault, and the temperature soared to 100 degrees, Zembiec drank bottled water and talked about the fight that had just passed, including what turned out to be the finale, a two-hour firefight April 26 in which his Marines and the insurgents had closed to within 30 meters of each other in a deafening, explosive exchange. Zembiec called that fight "the greatest day of my life. I never felt so alive, so exhilarated, so purposeful. There is nothing equal to combat, and there is no greater honor than to lead men into combat. Once you've dealt with life and death like that, it gives you a whole new perspective." Zembiec joined the Marine Corps to fight. He nearly quit a few years ago in hopes of becoming an FBI agent like his father, because the prospect of seeing combat seemed too remote. But he decided that being a rifle company commander was too good to pass up. Before Fallouja, his only combat experience had been in 1999, when he spent a month as platoon commander of a reconnaissance unit in Kosovo. He had been stationed in Okinawa during last year's assault on Baghdad, an experience that he found enormously frustrating. Marines in Iraq were in combat, and Zembiec was watching the war on television. A broad-shouldered 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 190 pounds, Zembiec is an imposing physical presence even among Marines known for their tough-muscled physiques. He oozes self-confidence ("confidence is a leadership trait") and at meetings with top officers, he never expressed doubts about success. When called to headquarters with other commanders for an intelligence briefing, he seemed impatient to return to his troops and always positioned himself near the door for a quick getaway once the talk was finished. "He's everything you want in a leader: He'll listen to you, take care of you and back you up, but when you need it, he'll put a boot" up your behind, said Sgt. Casey Olson. "But even when he's getting at you, he doesn't do it so you feel belittled." The image of Zembiec leading the April 6 charge had a lasting impact on his troops. Leading by example is a powerful tool. "He gets down there with his men," said Lance Cpl. Jacob Atkinson. "He's not like some of these other officers: He leads from the front, not the rear." Said Lt. Daniel Rosales: "He doesn't ask anything of you that he doesn't ask of himself." To his bosses, Zembiec had the aggressiveness and fearlessness they wanted in a commander. He was not reluctant to put himself and his troops at risk to draw out the insurgents. As Maj. Joseph Clearfield, the battalion's operations officer, said: "He goes out every day and creates menacing dilemmas for the enemy." A quote from Zembiec in a Los Angeles Times story drew a flood of e-mails from stateside military personnel. He had remarked about having a "terrific day" in Fallouja. "We just whacked two [insurgents] running down an alley with AK-47s." Navy Lt. David Ausiello e-mailed that he met Zembiec at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where "the legend began." Ausiello was a plebe (freshman) and Zembiec a senior. "Doug was not a screamer," Ausiello said. "He was a leader, and every plebe in our company knew it. I like to think of him as a gentle giant." Zembiec set the standard at the academy for fitness and toughness, Ausiello said. He also rebelled mildly, on occasion, by slyly shouting out an oddball word while standing in formation, to the dismay of senior officers reviewing the troops. Brig. Gen. Richard Kramlich, upon learning that a reporter had met Zembiec, smiled broadly and said, "He's something, isn't he?" Kramlich taught at the academy when Zembiec was a wrestler. "Everybody's out for blood" in wrestling, Zembiec told the Albuquerque Journal, his hometown newspaper, in 1995. "You better be tough." As Echo Company suffered casualties during the battle for Fallouja, Zembiec counseled his Marines to stay focused. But he never acted as a buddy, never addressed the troops by their first names, and discouraged excessive mourning over the mounting casualty toll. "Pity gets you killed in this profession," he said. With three dead and more than 50 wounded, Echo Company had the largest number of casualties of any Marine rifle company in Iraq. To civilians, the figure may seem horrific, but Zembiec notes that in past wars, it was common for Marine rifle companies to suffer even greater casualties and continue "taking the fight to the enemy." Between firefights, he wrote condolence letters to the families of the dead Marines. He also recommended individuals for combat commendations: "I'm completely in awe of their bravery," he said. "The things I have seen them do, walking through firestorms of bullets and rocket-propelled grenades and not moving and providing cover fire for their men so they can be evacuated…. " He thinks the cliché about troops being enveloped by the "fog of war" is overstated. "It's just the opposite," he said. "You become acutely aware and attuned to your environment. You become like a wild animal. Your vision, your hearing, everything becomes clearer." He is not given to introspection, not even about the April 26 fight in which he led a mission that turned into an ambush. After two hours of fighting, one Marine was dead and 16 were wounded. "I don't second-guess myself or have doubts or regrets about that day, except that lots of Marines got busted up. Not to be cold, but that's the way with battle. It goes with going into harm's way." Only reluctantly did he order a pullback. "I would have stayed there and fought all day but I had [Marines with] injuries," including himself. He was hit in the leg with shrapnel. Born in Hawaii, Zembiec grew up in New York, Texas and New Mexico as his father's career took him to different FBI offices. In Albuquerque -- where his parents make their retirement home —- he loved to hunt deer and bobcat. Military service was a natural career path. His father's friends included men who had served with distinction, among them a Medal of Honor winner. His father, Donald, served in the Army in the 1960s. He is not surprised that his son was in the thick of the action in Iraq. "He's wanted to do this his entire life," he said. "I always thought I saw leadership in him." My own generation of baby boomers went to college in order to express their individuality. Zembiec was searching for something else at the Naval Academy. "It was a culture of hardness and mental toughness and challenge. You're there to be part of a team. It's not about you." He quickly decided to join the Marines. Navy life aboard ship seemed too far from the action. "I liked the idea of the Marine Corps being shock troops. They're combat arms; they're men on the ground." Zembiec's battalion is due back in Camp Pendleton in October. In April, he plans to marry his longtime girlfriend, a sales executive for a pharmaceutical firm, in a ceremony at the Naval Academy chapel. Thoughts of leaving the corps are now gone. His next promotion—to major—might give him greater responsibility, but it would take him away from troops in the field. He jokes about turning it down in order to stay close to the action, sounding nostalgic about the firefights of April. "There was a lot of lead in the air that day," he says of one such fight. Would you want Douglas Zembiec in charge of U.S. foreign policy? Maybe, maybe not. Would you want him on your side if you -- or your nation -- got involved in a street brawl? Without a doubt. He is, as his fellow officers say, a military hybrid of modern tactics and ancient attitudes. "Doug is the prototypical modern infantry officer," Clearfield said. "He's also not that much different than the officers who led the Spartans into combat 4,000 years ago."
25970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: May 24, 2007, 05:55:27 PM
 
Here is more about the good major. He was a very respected man. Killed just a short time ago, May 11th, Blackfive had written about him many times. A genuine warrior, he will be sorely missed. You can read the personal comments about him here.  http://www.blackfive.net/main/2004/08/marine_captain_.html
 
http://www.blackfivhttp://www.blackfive.net/main/2004/08/marine_captain_.htmle.net/main/2007/05/a_lion_falls_go.html
 
The Fallen Lion - Godspeed Major Doug Zembiec
Posted By Blackfive
"Your son was killed in action today. Despite intense enemy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, your son fought like a lion. He remained in his fighting position until all his wounded comrades could be evacuated from the rooftop they were defending. It was during his courageous defense of his comrades that Aaron was hit by enemy fire.... With the exception of the Marines on Security, every man in the company attended the service. Aaron was respected and admired by every Marine in his company. His death brought tears to my eyes, tears that fell in front of my Marines. I am unashamed of that fact."
      - Douglas Zembiec, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, writing to the mother of Aaron C. Austin, included in Operation Homecoming by Andrew Carroll

Doug Zembiec, Major in the USMC, was known at the "Unapologetic Warrior".  We featured him here as Someone You Should Know almost three years ago (must read).  In fact, he was among the few that I included when I began that index - he is very "Mattis-like" or, maybe, General Mattis is very "Zembiec-like".

Just a few months before, then Captain, Zembiec led Echo Company into Fallujah.  We caught that as part of the Showdown series about Fallujah (link here).  Zembiec was leading his unit into combat where most of his men (53) had been wounded, with some wounded two or three times and still in the fight.  He talks about his Navy Hospital Corpsmen that kept his men alive (link here).

 
Zembiec Family Photo - Captain Doug Zembiec, April 2004
It is with tears and a heavy heart that I inform you that Major Doug Zembiec was killed this week.  We have lost a true lion, a warrior without peer, a Marine among Marines...from his Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device:

"On two occasions, Captain Zembiec coordinated the actions of the Marines from atop a tank while rocket-propelled grenades and enemy small arms fire impacted all around him. Wherever the battle raged with intensity, Zembiec could be found inspiring Marines to aggressively repel the enemy's determined assault..."

He was already wounded badly before he jumped on that tank.  And from the Comments of that long-ago post here, Marines spoke up about Doug:

I served with Capt Zembiec. I was a Scout/Sniper that was with him and Echo Company. I was awarded the Silver Star for my actions in Fallujah. I would Die for this man. I only wish people could see what this man did for his Marines. - Ethan Place

I was one of his platoon commanders at the time, and I know that he earned our respect and admiration. Our Marines couldn't imagine following a different company commander. Major Zembiec will always be an inspiration to me, no matter what I am doing. - Edward Solis

And from members of his unit:

There is no one better to go to war with - Sergeant Major William S. Skiles (Echo Company First Sergeant in 2004)

The love of his Marines and the Corps far surpasses anyone else I know. I don't think there are enough words to describe him as an individual. - Captain Darryl Ayers

He's everything you want in a leader: He'll listen to you, take care of you and back you up, but when you need it, he'll put a boot your... - Sergeant Casey Olson

He's not like some of these other officers: He leads from the front, not the rear. - Lance Corporal Jacob Atkinson

Doug is the prototypical modern infantry officer.  He's also not that much different than the officers who led the Spartans into combat... - LtCol Joseph Clearfield

Right now, the Zembiecs are mourning a heavy, heavy loss.  Doug's wife, Pam, and 1-year old daughter, Fallyn Justice, are with family members now.

I'll post more information as it comes in.  I've struggled with how much to share at this point.  I'll let you know if we can help in some small way.  One thing for certain, Doug Zembiec would want you to celebrate his life, his time with his family and his time on this Earth as a Marine.

“Day by day, fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it.” - Thucydides, The Funeral Speech for Pericles

Godspeed, Major Zembiec, godspeed...
25971  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring with bladed weapons on: May 24, 2007, 05:11:40 PM
Woof:

With DB Gatherings part of the charm is that there are "No judges, no referees, no trophies"-- so part of me is leery of being pulled into such a function.

yip!
CD
25972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nature on: May 24, 2007, 11:13:58 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

Absolutely amazing!
25973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Evolutionary Biology and Psychology on: May 24, 2007, 11:04:18 AM
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/04/iraq-the-americas-3-gen-gangs/

Iraq & the Americas: 3 GEN Gangs Lessons and Prospects

Iraq & the Americas: 3 GEN Gangs Lessons and Prospects

Robert J. Bunker & John P. Sullivan
Gangs and Iraqi insurgents, militias, and other non-state groups share common origins based on tribalism, and therefore, it is expected that they will exhibit similar structures and behaviors. It is our belief that further insight into Iraq’s present situation and future prospects may be derived from a perspective utilizing 3rd generation gang (3 GEN Gangs) studies which present lessons learned from the emergence and spread of gangs within the United States, and other parts of the world, over roughly the last four decades. (1) Basically, from a 3 GEN Gangs perspective, three generations of gangs have been found to exist: turf based, drug based, and mercenary based. The first generation gangs, comprising the vast majority, focus on protecting their turf. These gangs, the least developed of the three generational forms, provide both protection and identity to their members and little more. While some drug dealing is evident, it tends with these gangs to be a sideline activity.

The more evolved second and third generation gangs provide more tangible economic- and, later, political- based rewards to their members. Far fewer second generation gangs exist in relation to first generation gangs and, in turn, an even smaller number of third generation gangs exist in relation to second generation gangs—at least with regard to gangs found in the Americas. Second generation gangs focus on drug market development and exploitation and are far more sophisticated than turf based gangs. Third generation gangs are the most politicized, international in reach, and sophisticated of the gang generational forms. They will readily engage in mercenary endeavors and actively seek political power and financial gain from their activities. Certain terrorist groups (such as the Red Brigades in Italy), drug cartels, and local warlords all have attributes and organizational structures akin to third generation gangs. (2)

From a 3 GEN Gangs perspective, Iraq has been essentially overrun by 3rd generation gangs and their criminal-soldier equivalents. This is reminiscent of the nightmare scenario for the US already starting to develop in Central and South America (and, to a lesser extent, within the US) with the emergence, growth, and expansion of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and other Maras. In many ways, the ‘Gangs of Iraq’ are a prelude to the ‘Gangs of the Americas’ that we will be increasingly facing in the Western Hemisphere.

Gangs emerge, prosper, and solidify their position as a viable social organizational form in housing projects, neighborhoods, prisons, slums, cities, urban regions, and even entire countries that have undergone (or are undergoing) varying forms of societal failure. The rise of newer forms of tribalism leading to gang emergence may be derived from combinations that include lack of jobs, high levels of poverty and drug abuse, low educational levels, an absence of functional families, along with high levels of crime and lawlessness, including that generated by domestic internal strife, which result in a daily threat of bodily injury. Further, newer forms of tribalism may readily mingle with older pre-existing forms of tribalism based on kinship, clan, and other extended family groupings.

Iraq’s current situation, at least for the middle and southern sections, is far from hopeful. Currently some where between 1,000 and 5,000 people are now being killed throughout Iraq each month because of sectarian violence, gang wars, and rampant criminal activity. Total post-invasion deaths in Iraq taking place during the American and allied stability and support operations (SASO) period ranges anywhere from 50,000 to +100,000. (3) Societal strife generated by ethnic and religious intolerance— derived from older forms of Middle Eastern tribalism— has resulted in neighborhood ethnic cleansing and the emergence of fortified enclaves. Extra-judicial killings and torture (i.e. street justice) have become the norm as have home invasion robberies, carjackings, petty theft, assaults, and kidnappings for ransom. Shifting coalitions of former regime loyalists, foreign Jihadi fighters linked to al Qaeda, Shia and Sunni militiamen tied to local clerics, criminal gangs of numerous types, competing Iraqi ministries and even active military and police units, along with foreign operatives promoting the interests of Iran, Hizballah, and Syria make for a chaotic and ever-changing threat landscape.

Americans, once universally hailed as liberators except by the most hardened former regime loyalists, are now viewed by many Iraqis at best as unwanted foreigners that will hopefully leave soon and at worst as hated crusaders that should be actively singled out, tortured, and killed. The northern Kurd-dominated region of the country is far more stable and supportive of American forces than the two other sections of Iraq but still is not free of sectarian violence in the urban centers and sabotage, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, suicide bombings, and assassinations occur throughout the region.

Insight can be gained by juxtaposing strife ridden Iraq with the US and other regions of the world, specifically Central and South America, with their high levels of gang emergence and activity. Gangs are very much a social cancer within American society and are a by-product of the new form of tribalism that has emerged nationally—possibly as a partial result of the demise of the older melting pot culture and an overemphasis on cultural relativism and heterogeneity.

As a consequence, gangs have spread at an alarming rate throughout American society. In the US, about 58 cities had gangs in 1960. By 1992, the number of cities with gangs had jumped to 769. (4) Luckily, the vast majority of gangs in the US are composed of the relatively less-evolved Turf gangs—though second generation drug gangs have been common for decades now and third generation mercenary gangs, in the current form of the Maras, have just recently started to appear within our borders.

Still, even though most gangs in the US are Turf-based gangs, gang-related homicides in our country have probably totaled about 100,000 over the last 20 years. This is an educated guess based on an extrapolation of Los Angeles county gang homicide data as no national gang homicide statistics exist. (5) The daily attrition rate on America’s streets due to gang violence has either gone unrecognized or is not yet viewed as a national security threat by our federal government. To its credit, however, FBI led national task forces to contend with the criminal activities and atrocities (e.g. torture and machete attacks) committed by MS-13 and other violent gang members have now been put in place. (6)

In Central and South America, gangs are now nothing less than out of control. Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala are all being directly threatened by the Maras. (7) In addition, Brazilian society was recently brought to its knees by a powerful prison gang that instigated a limited duration state wide insurgency that resulted in numerous civilian and law enforcement deaths and temporarily paralyzed the national economy. (Cool Mexico, furthermore, is seeing a fusion of its powerful drug cartels and gangs with an ensuing drug war that is resulting in numerous killings and decapitations—much like the ritual Jihadi beheadings witnessed in Iraq. (9) No statistics or even estimates for the number of gang-related homicides that have taken place in Central and South America exist but they must surely be on par, if not far greater, than those that are estimated to have taken place in America over the last twenty years. If this is the case, gang killings for all of the Americas would now number, at the very least, in the low hundreds of thousands for that time span.

Of direct interest is the continuum of environmental modification represented by gang activities in the US at one extreme and in parts of the Americas and Iraq at the other. Even the most basic level US gangs will attempt to culturally influence and modify their surroundings with drive-by shootings, the use of gang graffiti to mark their territory, and the take over of selected public spaces. Iraqi gangs and groups, on the other hand, are engaging in full out ethnic cleansing, neighborhood takeovers, and direct political control of those individuals living within their sphere of influence. Early intervention can prevent gangs from taking over a neighborhood, city, urban region and other environments. However, if allowed to evolve and engage in unchecked activities for too long they promise to replace legitimate political authority. As such, 3 GEN Gangs readily fill the vacuum left by the absence of legitimate authority.

Iraq’s future prospects, given this scenario are bleak. The domination of Iraq by 3 GEN Gangs and other non-state entities (e.g. insurgent and terrorist groups, the militias of the clerics, and renegade police, military, and private security forces) has destroyed any chance of a free and democratically unified country emerging anytime soon, or possibly even for decades to come. The Iraqi operational environment has now seen the total blurring of crime and war. Perhaps, it is now even too far gone to salvage from a traditional policing or military perspective—only time will tell in this regard. (10)

This brings us some measure of concern with regard to the future prospects vis-à-vis the gang situation in the Americas. As more and more 3 GEN Gangs begin to emerge, thrive, and expands their networks in the Western Hemisphere the long term prospects for large regions of the Americas may very well, at some point, also come into question. Currently, 3 GEN Gangs have already take control in slums and other urban no-go zones, prisons, and some provinces and territories of various states including Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. That such gangs are now starting to emerge within the United States should also give pause for concern. These developments in global context may ultimately cause us to re-examine our policies in the Americas and elevate our concerns over the “Gangs of the Americas” to the same level as that currently afforded the “Gangs of Iraq.”

Notes

1. For an overview and literature survey of this topic see John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, “Third Generation Gang Studies: An Introduction”, Journal of Gang Research. Forthcoming.
2. A perspective on the Red Brigades as a 3 GEN Gang can be found in Max G. Manwaring, “Gangs and Coups D’ Streets in the New World Disorder: Protean Insurgents in Post-Modern War”, Robert J. Bunker, ed., Criminal-States and Criminal-Soldiers, special double issue of Global Crime, Vol. 7. No. 3-4. August/November 2006; for drug cartel and warlord similarities to 3 GEN Gangs see John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, “Drug Cartels, Street Gangs, and Warlords”, Robert J. Bunker, ed., Non-State Threats and Future Wars, special issue of Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 13. No. 2. Summer 2002, pp. 40-53.
3. Actual numbers of Iraqis killed each month and total figures are unknown. Sources are unreliable and typically inflated or deflated in order to benefit the policies or agenda of the group providing the statistics. We can safely say that 1,000 to 2,000 people are being killed each month but the upper limit of 5,000 people is no longer out of the range of possibility given the high levels of violence now generated by the simultaneous insurgency and civil war taking place. Iraqi casualty reports and tracking websites offer total numbers killed upwards from 50,000.
4. Malcolm W. Klein, The American Street Gang, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. 92-95.
5. Los Angeles County gang homicide information provided by Sgt. Wes McBride, Los Angeles Sheriffs Department, Retired, Safe Streets Bureau.
6. Statement of Chris Swecker, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division Federal Bureau of Investigation Before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere House International Relations Committee April 20, 2005.
7. See Ana Arana, “How the Street Gangs Took Central America,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 3. May/June 2005, pp. 98-110.
8. See Andrew Downie, “Police Are Targeted in Deadly Attacks, Prison Riots in Brazil”, Los Angeles Times, Sunday, May 14, 2006, p. A25; Marcelo Soares and Patrick J. McDonnell, “Inmates Unleash a Torrent of Violence on Brazilian City”, Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, May 16, 2006, pp. A1, A16; and Marcelo Soares and Patrick J. McDonnell, “Death Toll in Sao Paulo Rise to 133; City is Calm”, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, May 17, 2006, p. A16.
9. See Lisa J. Campbell, “The Use of Beheadings by Fundamentalist Islam”, Robert J. Bunker, ed., Criminal-States and Criminal-Soldiers, special double issue of Global Crime, Vol. 7. No. 3-4. August/November 2006.
10. The US military seems to think that temporarily raising troop levels in order to neutralize Muqtada al-Sadr’s ‘Mahdi Army’ (Shia militia) and possibly launching an offensive into the Sunni stronghold of Al Anbar province in support of the Iraqi government offer the best hopes for victory. This plan is being debated within the government and already criticized in some quarters. See Julian E. Barnes, “Larger U.S. effort in Iraq is proposed”, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, December 13, 2006, pp. A1, A16; and Maura Reynolds, “Majority support pullout timeline”, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, December 13, 2006, pp. A17.

----------

Dr. Robert J. Bunker is CEO of the Counter-OPFOR Corporation. John P. Sullivan is senior research fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism and a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

25974  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sparring with bladed weapons on: May 24, 2007, 11:01:55 AM
Woof All:

I have great interest in this subject and we already have some highly qualified folks here discussing it.  cool I look forward to the discussion.

TAC,
CD
25975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: May 24, 2007, 09:03:56 AM
Interesting idea.  Please feel free to start such a thread in the MA forum.
25976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: May 24, 2007, 12:17:13 AM
Robert:

I know-- he started training with me recently.  Cool guy, he's a jazz drummer too, showed me a couple of beginner's basics.

Tom:

This was the last track of a movie on Jimi which I saw when it came out.  When it was over, sat there a very long time.

25977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Disconcerting Survey on: May 22, 2007, 06:32:11 PM
If one does some calculations about how many people these various %s work out to, some disconcerting numbers result.
===================================



http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nat...sns-ap-topnews

Most U.S. Muslims Reject Suicide Bombings


By ALAN FRAM
Associated Press Writer
Originally published May 22, 2007, 10:45 AM EDT
WASHINGTON // One in four younger U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings to defend their religion are acceptable at least in some circumstances, though most Muslim Americans overwhelmingly reject the tactic and are critical of Islamic extremism and al-Qaida, a poll says.

The survey by the Pew Research Center, one of the most exhaustive ever of the country's Muslims, revealed a community that in many ways blends comfortably into society. Its largely mainstream members express nearly as much happiness with their lives and communities as the general public does, show a broad willingness to adopt American customs, and have income and education levels similar to others in the U.S.


Even so, the survey revealed noteworthy pockets of discontent.

While nearly 80 percent of U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam can not be justified, 13 percent say they can be, at least rarely.

That sentiment is strongest among those younger than 30. Two percent of them say it can often be justified, 13 percent say sometimes and 11 percent say rarely.

"It is a hair-raising number," said Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, which promotes the compatibility of Islam with democracy.

He said most supporters of the attacks likely assumed the context was a fight against occupation -- a term Muslims often use to describe the conflict with Israel.

U.S. Muslims have growing Internet and television access to extreme ideologies, he said, adding: "People, especially younger people, are susceptible to these ideas."

Federal officials have warned that the U.S. must be on guard against homegrown terrorism, as the British suffered with the London transit bombings of 2005.

Even so, U.S. Muslims are far less accepting of suicide attacks than Muslims in many other nations. In surveys Pew conducted last year, support in some Muslim countries exceeded 50 percent, while it was considered justifiable by about one in four Muslims in Britain and Spain, and one in three in France.

"We have crazies just like other faiths have them," said Eide Alawan, who directs interfaith outreach at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich., one of the nation's largest mosques. He said killing innocent people contradicts Islam.

Andrew Kohut, Pew director, called support for the attacks "one of the few trouble spots" in the survey.

The question did not specify where a suicide attack might occur, who might carry it out or what was meant by using a bombing to "defend Islam."

In other findings:

_Only 5 percent of U.S. Muslims expressed favorable views of the terrorist group al-Qaida, though about a fourth did not express an opinion.

_Six in 10 said they are concerned about a rise in Islamic extremism in the U.S., while three in four expressed similar worries about extremism around the world.

_Yet only one in four consider the U.S. war on terrorism a sincere attempt to curtail international terror. Only 40 percent said they believe Arab men carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

_By six to one, they say the U.S. was wrong to invade Iraq, while a third say the same about Afghanistan -- far deeper than the opposition expressed by the general U.S. public.

_Just over half said it has been harder being a U.S. Muslim since the 9/11 attacks, especially the better educated, higher income, more religious and young. Nearly a third of those who flew in the past year say they underwent extra screening because they are Muslim.

The survey estimates there are roughly 2.35 million Muslim Americans. It found that among adults, two-thirds are from abroad while a fifth are U.S.-born blacks.

By law, the Census Bureau does not ask about peoples' religions.

Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,050 Muslim adults from January through April, including some in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Subjects were chosen at random, from a separate list of households including some with Muslim-sounding names, and from Muslim households that had participated in previous surveys.

The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.
25978  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 22, 2007, 06:26:18 PM
Maija:

Go for it!

CD

25979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 22, 2007, 06:24:33 PM
Ugh.  angry angry angry

No doubt they would have some choice things to say about Michele Malkin too , , ,
25980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 22, 2007, 09:24:23 AM
A Reporter's Fate
The BBC held hostage in Gaza.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Dozens of hostages were released in Gaza over the weekend, in the wake of a truce called between the warring factions of Hamas and Fatah. The BBC's Alan Johnston, now in his 11th week of captivity, was not among them.

I last saw Mr. Johnston in January 2005, the day before Mahmoud Abbas was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Johnston was by then the only Western correspondent living and working full time in Gaza, although the Strip was still considered a safe destination for day-tripping foreign journalists. He kindly lent me his office to interview Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, and asked whether I was still editing the Jerusalem Post. He seemed genuinely oblivious to the notion that my by-then former association with an Israeli newspaper was not the sort of information I wanted broadcast to a roomful of Palestinian stringers.

January 2005 was also the last time one could feel remotely optimistic about an independent Palestinian future. Mr. Abbas had campaigned for office promising "clean legal institutions so we can be considered a civilized society." He won by an overwhelming margin in an election Hamas refused to contest. There had been a sharp decline in Israeli-Palestinian violence, thanks mainly to Israeli counterterrorism measures and the security fence. A Benetton outlet had opened in Ramallah, signaling better times ahead.

In Gaza things were different, however, and Mr. Johnston was prescient in reporting on the potential for internecine strife: "This internal conflict between police and the militants cannot happen," one of his stories quotes a Palestinian police chief as saying. "It is forbidden. We are a single nation." Yet in 2005 more Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians than by Israelis. It got worse in 2006, following Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Hamas's victory in parliamentary elections. "The occupation was not as bad as the lawlessness and corruption that we are facing now," Palestinian editor Hafiz Barghouti admitted to Mr. Johnston in a widely cited remark.





When Mr. Johnston was kidnapped by persons unknown on March 12--apparently dragged at gunpoint from his car while on his way home--he became at least the 23rd Western journalist to have been held hostage in Gaza. In most cases the kidnappings rarely lasted more than a day. Yet in August FOXNews's Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig were held for two weeks, physically abused and forced to convert to Islam. Plainly matters were getting progressively worse for foreigners. So why did the BBC keep Mr. Johnston in place?
 Yet the BBC also seemed to operate in the Palestinian Authority with a sense of political impunity. Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti described Mr. Johnston as someone who "has done a lot for our cause"--not the sort of endorsement one imagines the BBC welcoming from an equivalent figure on the Israeli side. Other BBC correspondents were notorious for making their politics known to their viewers: Barbara Plett confessed to breaking into tears when Arafat was airlifted to a Parisian hospital in October 2004; Orla Guerin treated Israel's capture of a living, wired teenage suicide bomber that March as nothing more than a PR stunt--"a picture that Israel wants the world to see."

Though doubtlessly sincere, these views also conferred institutional advantages for the BBC in terms of access and protection, one reason why the broadcaster might have felt relatively comfortable posting Mr. Johnston in a place no other news agency dared to go.

By contrast, reporters who displeased Palestinian authorities could be made to pay a price. In one notorious case in October 2000, Italian reporter Riccardo Cristiano of RAI published a letter in a Palestinian newspaper insisting he had not been the one who had broadcast images of two Israeli soldiers being lynched in Ramallah. "We respect the journalistic regulations of the Palestinian Authority," he wrote, blaming rival Mediaset for the transgression. I had a similar experience when I quoted a Palestinian journalist describing as "riff-raff" those of his neighbors celebrating the attacks of Sept. 11. Within a day, the journalist was chided and threatened by Palestinian officials for having spoken to me. They were keeping close tabs.

Still, whatever the benefits of staying on the right side of the Palestinian powers-that-be, they have begun to wane. For years, the BBC had invariably covered Palestinian affairs within the context of Israel's occupation--the core truth from which all manifestations of conflict supposedly derived. Developments within Gaza following Israel's withdrawal showed the hollowness of that analysis. Domestic Palestinian politics, it turned out, were shot through with their own discontents, contradictions and divisions, not just between Hamas and Fatah but between scores of clans, gangs, factions and personalities. Opposition to Israel helped in some ways to mute this reality, but it could not suppress it.





This is the situation--not a new one, but one the foreign media had for years mostly ignored--in which the drama of Mr. Johnston's captivity is playing out. Initial reports suggested he had been kidnapped by the so-called Popular Resistance Committee; later an al Qaeda affiliate called the Army of Islam claimed to have killed him. More recently, evidence has come to light suggesting he's alive and being held by a criminal gang based in the southern town of Rafah. The British government is reportedly in talks with a radical Islamist cleric in their custody, Abu Qatada, whose release the Army of Islam has demanded for Mr. Johnston's freedom. What the British will do, and what effect that might have, remains to be seen.
For now, one can only pray for Mr. Johnston's safe release. Later, the BBC might ask itself whether its own failures of prudence and judgment put its reporter's life in jeopardy. The BBC's Paul Adams has said of his colleague that it was "his job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament." For that act of solidarity one hopes a terrible price will not be paid.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

25981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 22, 2007, 09:16:56 AM
WSJ
The Left's Iraq Muddle
Yes, it is central to the fight against Islamic radicalism.

BY BOB KERREY
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

At this year's graduation celebration at The New School in New York, Iranian lawyer, human-rights activist and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi delivered our commencement address. This brave woman, who has been imprisoned for her criticism of the Iranian government, had many good and wise things to say to our graduates, which earned their applause.

But one applause line troubled me. Ms. Ebadi said: "Democracy cannot be imposed with military force."

What troubled me about this statement--a commonly heard criticism of U.S. involvement in Iraq--is that those who say such things seem to forget the good U.S. arms have done in imposing democracy on countries like Japan and Germany, or Bosnia more recently.





Let me restate the case for this Iraq war from the U.S. point of view. The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were "over there." It was our nation and our people who had been identified by Osama bin Laden as the "head of the snake." But suddenly Middle Eastern radicals had demonstrated extraordinary capacity to reach our shores.
As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.

Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.

The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.

Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."

This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.





Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn't have lasted a week.
Finally, Jim Webb said something during his campaign for the Senate that should be emblazoned on the desks of all 535 members of Congress: You do not have to occupy a country in order to fight the terrorists who are inside it. Upon that truth I believe it is possible to build what doesn't exist today in Washington: a bipartisan strategy to deal with the long-term threat of terrorism.

The American people will need that consensus regardless of when, and under what circumstances, we withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. We must not allow terrorist sanctuaries to develop any place on earth. Whether these fighters are finding refuge in Syria, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere, we cannot afford diplomatic or political excuses to prevent us from using military force to eliminate them.

Mr. Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska and member of the 9/11 Commission, is president of The New School.

25982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Particular Stocks on: May 22, 2007, 08:51:30 AM
In the last couple of weeks I have finally jettisoned KVHI-- a big loser for me than totally offset my gains in MVIS.

I retain the big position in MVIS and have entered into bigger positions in ISIS and LNOP.

ISIS is per David Gordon's recommendation.  His http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/ offers some of the finest market commentary and stock commentary/advice to be found anywhere. (I recently doubled by solid position in GOOG at 462 on his call)

LNOP is a hot choice of George Gilder, whose advice led me to seriously disasatrously consequences a few years ago, but Rick Neaton who continues following the Gilder universe has persuaded me about this one.

TAC!
25983  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / NY Times: NFL Player to fight on: May 22, 2007, 08:45:06 AM

LAKE FOREST, Calif., May 16 — When Johnnie Morton finished playing wide receiver in the National Football League, he carefully reviewed his retirement options: be host of a talk show, expand his real estate profile, maybe work on his golf game.

Morton played 12 professional seasons, including 8 with the Detroit Lions. He caught 43 touchdown passes in his career.
After much consideration, Morton decided that it would be best to spend his free time being body slammed into a chain-link fence by two men named Joker and Gun.

“Crazy, huh?” Joker said.

Joker’s real name is Mike Guymon. Gun’s real name is Tony Bonello. Together, they are teaching Morton how to compete in mixed martial arts, one of the few sports that may be more violent and more dangerous than professional football.

“I’ve gotten hit a lot in my life,” said Morton, who spent 12 seasons going over the middle against N.F.L. safeties. “But I’ve never gotten hit like this.”

Morton will walk into a ring for the first time June 2 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, beginning his second career. He expects to ask himself the same question that friends, family members and former teammates have been asking him for months: What in the world are you thinking?

Mixed martial arts combines wrestling, boxing and kick boxing with jujitsu, tae kwon do and Muay Thai. Punches to the head and knees to the gut are encouraged. Even the most accomplished fighters get their faces rearranged into cubist paintings.

Two months ago, Morton’s only experience with mixed martial arts was watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship on television. He admired the fighters, mainly because they were the only athletes who seemed more fearless than football players. Morton memorized their names as if they were N.F.L. superstars.

“Some people want to bungee jump,” Morton said. “Others want to jump out of planes. I would never do that. But I want to do this.”

Morton, 35, does not have to fight for a living. He went to the University of Southern California, had a cameo playing himself in the movie “Jerry Maguire,” and was named one of People magazine’s most eligible bachelors. He is rich, handsome, and almost as marketable as Tiki Barber, the former Giants running back who is now a news correspondent for NBC’s “Today” show.

Morton, meanwhile, goes to work at a gym in an Orange County office park. The gym — Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy — includes a ring with a chain-link fence. Japanese and American flags hang from the ceiling, reminding Morton of his mixed heritage.

In Detroit, where Morton spent eight seasons, he was the kind of player who did not get tired even during two-a-days. He can bench press 400 pounds. His body fat is less than 5 percent. But during a sparring session Wednesday, he could not summon the energy to get off his hands and knees. Joker and Gun had to drag him to his feet.

“Let me die in peace,” Morton moaned.

Then he remembered that he was a former professional football player, that his girlfriend was watching, and that Joker and Gun do not believe in peace.

Morton charged at his sparring partner, battering him with a combination of punches and dropping him to the mat with a sweep of his leg. Morton used one hand to grab the man’s neck and the other to pound the side of his face.

If Morton were in the N.F.L., he would have drawn a 15-yard penalty, an automatic ejection, a fine and a possible suspension. But here, he prompted Joker and Gun to do their version of a touchdown dance.

“Look at this guy,” Gun said. “He’s beautiful. He has tons of money. He has an incredibly happy lifestyle. And he’s putting his brain on the line. He’s putting his manhood on the line. It’s hard to say what would make him do it.”

Morton is not the first N.F.L. player to enter the ring, only the most celebrated. Michael Westbrook, a former receiver for the Washington Redskins, won a fight two years ago over Jarrod Bunch, a former running back for the Giants. Bob Sapp, a washout as a N.F.L. lineman, became a formidable competitor in mixed martial arts.

One afternoon last winter, Morton was eating lunch at the Health Emporium when a man named Joey Sakoda approached him. Sakoda first asked Morton if he wanted to go to a mixed martial arts fight. Then Sakoda asked Morton if he wanted to participate.

Sakoda works for Superagent Athletes, a Japanese agency that represents Joker and Gun, both title holders. Sakoda acted quickly, placing Morton on the Dynamite!! U.S.A. fight card, which includes a mixed martial arts star (Royce Gracie) as well as a novelty act (Hong Man Choi, a 7-foot-2 South Korean.)
=====

Morton was afraid to tell his parents. His mother, Katsuko, is Japanese-American. His father, Johnnie Sr., is African-American. Johnnie Sr. was once shot eight times while in his car. Katsuko and Johnnie Sr. did not want their son taking any more risks with his body.

Morton is getting no tuneups. He is fighting in less than two weeks, on Showtime pay-per-view, in the same stadium where he played college football. He will be paid about as much money as he used to earn for a single N.F.L. game.

One of the broadcasters will be Jay Glazer, who has a unique perspective on the bout. Glazer is best known as an N.F.L. analyst, but he also competes in mixed martial arts. When he visits N.F.L. training camps in the summer, players ask him more about fighting than about football.

“Football players are looked at as the biggest and baddest guys on the planet,” Glazer said. “People see them as superheroes. But football players also need someone to look up to. They view mixed martial arts as something even they are unwilling or unable to do. All the guys love Johnnie. But they think he’s nuts.”

N.F.L. players may not want to get into the ring, but they are willing to get in a gym. For years, many players have used boxing as part of their off-season workout regimen. Recently, they have started to turn to mixed martial arts.

According to Glazer, Philadelphia’s Brian Dawkins and Jacksonville’s Donovin Darius have trained at a mixed martial arts gym. So has Barber. This winter, Kansas City’s Jared Allen worked out at Arizona Combat Sports in Tempe.

“Football used to be our only real gladiator sport,” said Trevor Lally, the owner of Arizona Combat Sports gym. “Now, players have M.M.A. to give them a taste of that one-on-one combat. The combat is what they love.”

Morton was never a fighter. Like many receivers, he would try to hit linebackers when they were looking the other way. But Morton said there was only one person in the N.F.L. he would really like to see in the ring — Matt Millen, the Lions’ president. Millen directed a homosexual epithet at Morton after a game between Detroit and Kansas City in 2003, when Morton was playing for the Chiefs.

Morton is not ready to give up football just yet. He was released by the San Francisco 49ers two years ago but said that his agent was talking to a couple of teams. Ideally, he would fight in June and go to a training camp in July.

Morton is trying to shift back and forth, from the mainstream of sports to the fringes, from Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to Joker and Gun. When Morton finished his workout Wednesday, Joker shouted out one more piece of advice, for the road home and the road to retirement.

“Drive fast,” he said. “Take chances.”
25984  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 22, 2007, 02:45:45 AM
The deal should be signed tomorrow or Wednesday to make everything firm and final, but at the moment we have a verbal agreement.

Assuming all goes as planned, the location is this:

Location:  2435 N. Naomi St. Burbank, CA 91504  (park on lot off  Burton Ave)
25985  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: May 22, 2007, 01:34:46 AM
stratfor.com

Mexico: A Deteriorating Security Situation
May 21, 2007 22 26  GMT



Summary

About 150 state police officers in Mexico's northern Nuevo Leon state went on strike May 21, demanding higher salaries and more resources to fight organized crime, which has claimed the lives of six state police officers in the past four days. Given that drug cartels have increasingly targeted police, army and government personnel in response to a federal campaign to combat organized crime -- and are showing no signs of stopping -- the security situation in Mexico likely will continue deteriorating.

Analysis

About 150 state police officers in Mexico's northern Nuevo Leon state went on strike May 21, demanding higher salaries and more resources to fight organized crime, which has claimed the lives of six state police officers in the past four days. Reports indicate the strike temporarily left a large portion of downtown Monterrey with little to no police presence. City police officers filled in for the state police, who have reached a deal with the government and are scheduled to return to work May 22.

Mexico's drug cartels have increasingly targeted police, army and government personnel in response to a federal campaign to combat organized crime. As this campaign continues, Mexico probably will not be able to reduce violent drug-related crimes in the near future.






Although Mexico has become increasingly violent since the government began its crackdown on organized crime in December 2006, recent violence in the northern states of Nuevo Leon and Sonora has contributed significantly to the country's deteriorating security situation. In addition to the deaths of the six Nuevo Leon police officers in the last four days, threats against journalists have further strained state police forces. A group of about 30 newspaper and television reporters protested May 19 in front of a state government building, demanding greater protection after a TV cameraman and reporter reportedly were kidnapped by drug traffickers earlier in the month. Perhaps the most notorious incident occurred May 16 in the town of Cananea, in Sonora state, where 40-50 armed men abducted seven police officers and six civilians, later killing seven. The ensuing gunbattle with police brought the death toll to 23.

The federal response to such violence highlights the challenges Mexico's security forces face in combating organized crime. Despite a government move to send more than 300 federal and state police officers and army soldiers to the Cananea area, most of the attackers escaped. This increased police presence also did not prevent the May 17 targeted killing of Sonora Police Chief Pedro Cordova Herrera. In addition, the state government announced May 20 it would begin investigating all municipal police officers in Cananea for possible cartel links. This investigation highlights the fundamental corruption problem Mexico's security forces are battling as they continue to fight the cartels.

The recent wave of violence in Sonora and Nuevo Leon can be explained by geography; the states share borders with the United States, making them valuable to drug cartels and trafficking organizations that move narcotics and people across the border. But drug-related violence is on the rise throughout Mexico; according to the attorney general's office, Mexico saw an average of 225 crimes per day related to narcotics trafficking between Dec. 1, 2006, and March 31, 2007. This represents a 40 percent increase over the 2006 average of 159 deaths per day.

For now, the federal government still appears both able and willing to commit more troops and resources to President Felipe Calderon's campaign against organized crime. On May 21, Morelos was added to the list of states to which army soldiers have been deployed. But the effectiveness of federal troops is questionable in such operations, given that the Mexican army is primarily trained and deployed for disaster response. Hence, it seems the security situation in Mexico will continue to deteriorate.
25986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 22, 2007, 01:32:10 AM


You post eludes me entirely SB Mig-- what are you talking about?  huh
25987  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Ruthless on Fox 5 in DC this morning on: May 22, 2007, 01:30:08 AM
I had a fine time there and am scheduled to return in October.

A hearty woof to Dino & Ashley for this well-deserved feather in their cap!
25988  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 22, 2007, 01:28:49 AM
This has been a perennial struggle in our knife fighting.  Indeed this issue drove the push to aluminum blades and drives the push to the Shocknife.

I'm not really sure how to resolve it-- but I will note that Linda of the Bay Area clan (Baltic Dog's crew) had an outstanding knife fight against a man a few years back which is like to appear in our upcoming DBMA DVD "Die Less Often Volume 2" -- so it certainly can be done.

25989  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movies of interest on: May 22, 2007, 01:24:41 AM
It has recently come to my attention that Stallone is a major anti-gun rights guy.  What a hypocrite.
25990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 21, 2007, 10:25:54 PM
My understanding is that The Guardian is quite the leftist publication.  Nonetheless, a depressing piece-- especially the comment on our political will here at home.
=====================

Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq


Simon Tisdall
Tuesday May 22, 2007
The Guardian


US soldiers visit an Iraqi army base in Amiriya, a Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad. Photograph: Sean Smith
 


Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.
"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government]."


Article continues

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The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran's Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. "We expect that al-Qaida and Iran will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus's report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush's controversial, six-month security "surge" of 30,000 troop reinforcements]," the official said.
"Certainly it [the violence] is going to pick up from their side. There is significant latent capability in Iraq, especially Iranian-sponsored capability. They can turn it up whenever they want. You can see that from the pre-positioning that's been going on and the huge stockpiles of Iranian weapons that we've turned up in the last couple of months. The relationships between Iran and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid," the official said.

"It often comes down to individuals, and people constantly move around. For instance, the Sunni Arab so-called resistance groups use Salafi jihadist ideology for their own purposes. But the whole Iran- al-Qaida linkup is very sinister."

Iran has maintained close links to Iraq's Shia political parties and militias but has previously eschewed collaboration with al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents.

US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Iran has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban's campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.

Tehran's strategy to discredit the US surge and foment a decisive congressional revolt against Mr Bush is national in scope and not confined to the Shia south, its traditional sphere of influence, the senior official in Baghdad said. It included stepped-up coordination with Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Syrian-backed Sunni Arab groups and al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, he added. Iran was also expanding contacts across the board with paramilitary forces and political groups, including Kurdish parties such as the PUK, a US ally.

"Their strategy takes into account all these various parties. Iran is playing all these different factions to maximise its future control and maximise US and British difficulties. Their co-conspirator is Syria which is allowing the takfirists [fundamentalist Salafi jihadis] to come across the border," the official said.

Any US decision to retaliate against Iran on its own territory could be taken only at the highest political level in Washington, the official said. But he indicated that American patience was wearing thin.

Warning that the US was "absolutely determined" to hit back hard wherever it was challenged by Iranian proxies or agents inside Iraq, he cited the case of five alleged members of the Revolutionary Guard's al-Quds force detained in Irbil in January. Despite strenuous protests from Tehran, which claims the men are diplomats, they have still not been released.

"Tehran is behaving like a racecourse gambler. They're betting on all the horses in the race, even on people they fundamentally don't trust," a senior administration official in Washington said. "They don't know what the outcome will be in Iraq. So they're hedging their bets."

The administration official also claimed that notwithstanding recent US and British overtures, Syria was still collaborating closely with Iran's strategy in Iraq.

"80% to 90%" of the foreign jihadis entering Iraq were doing so from Syrian territory, he said.

Despite recent diplomatic contacts, and an agreement to hold bilateral talks at ambassadorial level in Baghdad next week, US officials say there has been no let-up in hostile Iranian activities, including continuing support for violence, weapons smuggling and training.

"Iran is perpetuating the cycle of sectarian violence through support for extra-judicial killing and murder cells. They bring Iraqi militia members and insurgent groups into Iran for training and then help infiltrate them back into the country. We have plenty of evidence from a variety of sources. There's no argument about that. That's just a fact," the senior official in Baghdad said.

In trying to force an American retreat, Iran's hardline leadership also hoped to bring about a humiliating political and diplomatic defeat for the US that would reduce Washington's regional influence while increasing Tehran's own.

But if Iran succeeded in "prematurely" driving US and British forces out of Iraq, the likely result would be a "colossal humanitarian disaster" and possible regional war drawing in the Sunni Arab Gulf states, Syria and Turkey, he said.

Despite such concerns, or because of them, the US welcomed the chance to talk to Iran, the senior administration official said. "Our agenda starts with force protection in Iraq," he said. But there were many other Iraq-related issues to be discussed. Recent pressure had shown that Iran's behaviour could be modified, the official claimed: "Last winter they were literally getting away with murder."

But tougher action by security forces in Iraq against Iranian agents and networks, the dispatch of an additional aircraft carrier group to the Gulf and UN security council resolutions imposing sanctions had given Tehran pause, he said.

Washington analysts and commentators predict that Gen Petraeus's report to the White House and Congress in early September will be a pivotal moment in the history of the four-and-a-half-year war - and a decision to begin a troop drawdown or continue with the surge policy will hinge on the outcome. Most Democrats and many Republicans in Congress believe Iraq is in the grip of a civil war and that there is little that a continuing military presence can achieve. "Political will has already failed. It's over," a former Bush administration official said.

A senior adviser to Gen Petraeus reported this month that the surge had reduced violence, especially sectarian killings, in the Baghdad area and Sunni-dominated Anbar province. But the adviser admitted that much of the trouble had merely moved elsewhere, "resulting in spikes of activity in Diyala [to the north] and some areas to the south of the capital". "Overall violence is at about the same level [as when the surge began in February]."

Iranian officials flatly deny US and British allegations of involvement in internal violence in Iraq or in attacks on coalition forces. Interviewed in Tehran recently, Mohammad Reza Bagheri, deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs with primary responsibility for Iran's policy in Iraq, said: "We believe it would be to the benefit of both the occupiers and the Iraqi people that they [the coalition forces] withdraw immediately."
25991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 21, 2007, 06:13:02 PM
Newt is on O'Reilly tonight:
===================
An email missive from Newt:

An Immigration Shipwreck
in Sight

The announcement last week that the White House and a group of senators have reached an agreement on "comprehensive immigration reform" should have the same effect that the word "iceberg" had on the passengers and crew of the Titanic.

This proposed agreement is a disaster of the first order, and it would severely cripple America for the foreseeable future.

You can tell how bad this bill is by the Senate Democratic leadership's announced goal of trying to pass it before the Memorial Day weekend.

Remember, this bill has not yet been finished. Senators and their staffs were still negotiating over the weekend and many key items were still in confusion. So here's what we have to do:

TODAY'S ACTION ITEM:

CALL YOUR SENATORS AND LET THEM KNOW HOW ANGRY YOU WILL BE IF THEY PASS A BILL BEFORE IT HAS BEEN PRINTED AND PUT ON THE INTERNET AND EXPOSED FOR THE COUNTRY TO READ AND UNDERSTAND.




 

75 Reasons to Oppose the New Immigration Bill

When the FBI arrested six terrorists in New Jersey two weeks ago it turned out that three of them had been in the U.S. illegally for at least TWENTY years.

These three had crossed our unprotected border and had been living in New Jersey.

But here's the even more outrageous part: The police had filed 75 (SEVENTY-FIVE!) charges against them, including drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In 75 interactions, the police never once learned that these three people were here illegally.

The government failed twice: First, by failing to secure the border, and second, by failing to determine that these people were here illegally. The result was that more than five years after 9/11 we were saved from a mass killing at Fort Dix only because of the patriotism and courage of a clerk at an electronics store.

Compare the 75 charges made against the would-be Fort Dix terrorists with how we rounded up German spies in World War II. In June 1942, it took a total of 15 days to track down and arrest eight German spies who landed in Florida and New York from submarines. We executed six of them and gave one life in prison and the other thirty years. We were serious about winning that war. Go here for a more detailed comparison and a list of the 75 charges against the Fort Dix terrorists.

Faced with this level of failure of bureaucracy, how could anyone believe for a minute that this new immigration bill will work? The fact is it can't and it won't. It will rely on the same failed bureaucracy and produce more years of failure.

We Have Been Here Before

In 1986, I voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill. We were promised that in return for amnesty for far fewer than three million illegal immigrants we would get:

Control of the border;
Enforcement of laws requiring employers to know someone is here legally before hiring them; and
No more amnesty and no more tolerance of illegality
The government broke its word on every one of those provisions.

We eventually amnestied three million people who had broken the law, and we sent a signal to the world that it is okay to break the law and come to America.

Now, 20 years later, we are told to trust Washington while we amnesty 12 to 20 million more people who have broken the law.

A Tax Amnesty Too?

When its supporters refer to the new immigration bill as "comprehensive," they must mean comprehensively outrageous.

The Boston Globe reported this weekend that the new bill will not require illegal workers to pay back taxes.

If this is true, the bill is an assault on every law-abiding, patriotic American who has been obeying the law, working legally and paying his taxes.

Every taxpaying American should insist that any bill involving any condition for illegal workers having any future in America should require them to do three things when it comes to taxes: 1) Admit how long they've been here (under threat of immediate deportation if they lie); 2) admit whom they worked for (who, after all, had also been breaking the law and avoiding paying taxes); and 3) pay any back taxes and penalties they owe.

There Is a Way to Deal With Illegal Immigration -- This is Not It

I have written extensively about good solutions for our current immigration mess in Winning the Future and elsewhere. Click here for more information.


Undermining America's Young Men and Women in Uniform

No one should doubt how much damage the Democrats are doing to America and to our young men and women in uniform with their political maneuvering in Congress.

In Atlanta Friday night, a doctor in the National Guard who had just come home from serving in Mosul briefed me on the damage he had seen to American morale and the confusion among young soldiers as the Democrats continue to play games with the supplemental appropriations and talk about legislating defeat in the war our troops are trying every day to win.

How would you like to be risking your life on the point in Iraq knowing some politician back home was undermining everything you are trying to do?

Call your House and Senate members and tell them to quit undermining our troops in the middle of a war and get the money to the troops without any more games or delays.

(I discussed Iraq with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday. You can watch it here.)

 

 
 
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25992  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Condiciones de Alerta on: May 21, 2007, 06:05:15 PM
Un analysis que me gusta mucho ofrece 5 opciones

1) Luchar/fight
2) Huir/flight
3) Congelarse/freeze
4) Ladrar/bluff
5) Rendir/surrender
25993  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: May 21, 2007, 06:01:56 PM
A Circus But No Bread
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
May 21, 2007; Page A16

"The characteristic feature of the market price is that it tends to equalize supply and demand."

--Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action," 1949

The Venezuelan government will seize control of Radio Caracas Television on Sunday, finally making good on a threat to silence one of the country's most important independent news sources. It is no coincidence that this is happening at a time when Venezuelans are suffering a shortage of key foodstuffs.

Free-speech protections in Venezuela have been steadily eroding for the past eight years, and most other television stations already practice self-censorship. With the expropriation of RCTV, there is only one other independent voice -- Globovision -- left standing. This assault on free speech has even provoked criticism by the Organization of American States, which has been silent about President Hugo Chávez's many other offenses against democracy.

Having built his claim to legitimacy on the spurious assertion that he presides over a democracy, you can bet that Mr. Chávez would not have gone after RCTV unless he deemed control of TV news vital to his survival. It may indeed be. The reason is because the economy has been so mismanaged that a crisis now appears unavoidable. How it will end, in rationing and hunger or hyperinflationary madness, is hard to say. But when the whole thing comes a cropper, the last thing the president will want is TV images of popular protests that could be contagious.

 
 
From the earliest days of his presidency, Mr. Chávez made it clear that he intended to vastly expand the state's economic power. In 2000 he started politicizing the state-owned oil company PdVSA and hollowing out its professional engineering and marketing staffs. Shortly thereafter he took to expropriating farms, factories and apartments. When Venezuelan money began to flee, he slapped on capital controls. More recently, he has forced international oil companies to hand over Venezuelan operations and surrender majority control. He has nationalized the largest telephone company and the most important electricity utility. He is now threatening to take over the banks.

As government takings always do, these assaults on property rights have badly damaged output and investment. Yet the harm has been greatly compounded by three other pernicious policies: price controls, profligate government spending and inflation of the national currency, the bolivar.

Here's how Chávez economics "works." As petro-dollars pour into state coffers, the government takes them to the central bank to get new bolivars printed, which are then pumped into the economy through government spending. Mr. Chávez has also been regularly increasing wages. The result is a consumption boom. Under free prices, too many bolivars chasing too few goods would produce inflation that would show up at the supermarket checkout counter. But price controls make that impossible. Instead, serious shortages are emerging.

Free prices are to an economy what microchips are to a computer. They carry information. As Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained in his legendary treatise 60 years ago, it is free prices that ensure that supply will meet demand. When Mr. Chávez imposed price controls, he destroyed the price mechanism.

And so it is that the Venezuelan egg is now a delicacy, the chicken an endangered species, toilet paper a luxury and meat an extravagance. White cheese, milk, tuna, sardines, sugar, corn oil, sunflower oil, carbonated drinks, beans, flour and rice are also in short supply.

The reason is simple: Producers have no incentive to bring goods to market if they are forced to sell them at unprofitable prices. Ranchers hold back their animals from slaughter, fisherman don't cast their nets, food processors don't invest in equipment and farmers don't plant. Those who do produce find it makes more sense to take their goods across the border to Colombia or to seek out unregulated (black) markets.

Importers also have little incentive to work these days even though the country needs food from abroad. Some things like wheat are not grown in Venezuela. Other products like milk, sugar and potatoes are imported to supplement local supplies. But the Chávez government has made it difficult to buy a dollar at the official exchange rate of 2,150 bolivars and if an importer has to buy dollars at the market rate of 4,000 bolivars it is impossible to make a profit under price controls. Even imports not subject to price controls can be difficult to find since import permits and licenses, as well as dollars, are hard to come by.

This is putting a crimp in more than just the food supply. According to local press reports, some 40% of the country's air fleet has been affected by delays in getting spare parts and the automotive industry's supply chain is hampered by a lack of access to dollars. Earlier this year hospitals began complaining that the servicing of medical equipment has been delayed because spare parts are not available. Hospitals are also reporting shortages of medicines for diabetics, antibiotics and hypertension drugs. Price controls on construction materials have damaged the reliability of supply.

To stock the state-owned grocery stores called Mercal, the Chávez government goes shopping abroad with dollar reserves. Of course, Mercal shelves are often bare as well. Moreover, some enterprising government employees seemed to have learned something about market economics: The Venezuelan media is reporting that Mercal supplies are turning up for sale just across the Colombian border, where market prices prevail.

Venezuelan policy makers can't be this dumb. The intention is not to feed the country but to destroy the private sector and any political power it might still have. In this environment survival independent of good relations with Mr. Chávez is nearly impossible. In the revolutionary handbook, capitalist producers and importers who buy things from the imperialists will be replaced by socialists living on cooperatives that will feed the country. The only trouble is that that effort is not going well, as José de Cordoba reported on the Journal's front page on Thursday. Lack of knowledge, equipment, incentives and organization have left the co-ops "mostly a bust so far."

To end the shortages all Mr. Chávez would have to do is lift the price controls. But with inflation already running above 20%, he no doubt fears the price jump that would follow. Much safer to seize RCTV and accelerate the consolidation of the military dictatorship. When the crisis comes, the chavistas will be ready.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
25994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 21, 2007, 05:35:30 PM
Battling al Qaeda in Iraq
The Iraqi Army is stepping up the fight against terror. On Saturday, I saw the terrorists strike back.

BY MELIK KAYLAN
Monday, May 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Diyala Province, Iraq--Saturday I witnessed a violent and dramatic illustration of how the Iraqi Army has, in places, begun to work effectively with tribesmen against determined al Qaeda insurgents.

The incident occurred some 50 miles north of Baghdad at a remote dusty village in Diyala province, which is now a kind of frontline between the two sides. We were there in the punishing noonday heat, with a rustic crowd on hand, to witness an emotional meeting between tribal chiefs in long robes and a lone, clean-shaven figure in a suit and tie--Ahmed Chalabi. Mr. Chalabi, the elite Shiite politician and former exile, a controversial figure in the U.S., came to thank the elders for their courage and sacrifice.

Until recently, Sunnis and Shiites had tilled the land together for miles around, intermarried and mutually inhabited a checkerboard of villages. A year ago, al Qaeda had forced its strategy of sectarian hatred on the area, purging the Shiites while executing Sunnis who resisted their authority. It remains one of Iraq's most volatile zones. Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the sanguinary leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, had his headquarters in the area and was ultimately killed less than 20 miles away.





Suddenly hefty explosions shook the ground while automatic gunfire rent the air. We were under attack, and al Qaeda had chosen a perfect moment to ignite disaster. All their local opponents were there, plus Mr. Chalabi, a top Iraqi government figure known around the world.
Mr. Chalabi lives outside the security of the Baghdad's Green Zone, albeit in a well-defended series of cul-de-sacs. One of his official functions requires him to raise public support for Baghdad's security plan, so he likes to be mobile and takes risks to stay in touch with things. Abroad, he has been accused of everything from luring the U.S. and other allies into toppling Saddam to passing sensitive information to Iran. Among Iraqis he is highly respected.

At about 10 a.m. on Saturday, we had taken off across Baghdad in a convoy of a dozen white pickups and SUVs, some with mounted machine guns, on our way to Diyala. We passed through notorious neighborhoods: one infamous for kidnapping, another where street battles have been fought between Shiites and Palestinian gangs. Often there were miles of static cars queuing for gasoline. We passed by the old U.N. High Commission building, truck-bombed in 2003, now empty. We passed Saddam's giant, turquoise, egg-shaped "Monument to the Martyrs" of the Iran-Iraq war, a bright contrast to the faded saffron brick of Baghdad's peeling facades. Suddenly a sharp explosive sound went off nearby and Ali, the security chief shouted "go, go, go" into the intercom. Our convoy raced off.

Out in the country, cracked dry earth and chalky bare scrubland stretched away. An hour out, the convoy slowed almost to standstill and stayed that way. Never a good thing. Al Qaeda had blown up all the bridges linking Baghdad to Iran, and a mile or more of trucks waited to cross a makeshift mud-and-stone bridge across the Diyala river. A bulldozer helped us jump the queue by carving an improvised path. We passed some miles of mud-brick dwellings and arrived at a village square encircled by earthen ramparts with a T-55 tank, a cannon and a bunker embedded along it. We had arrived at the front line in the village of Dafaa. Nearby stood a long, low reception hall, and, just in front, a large tent with long tables for the tribal buffet lunch.

Mr. Chalabi entered the building followed by Al-Iraqiyya TV crews. An aging sheik, in black-checkered headdress and sheer ochre robe--said to be the richest landowner--came in and sat beside him. Much of his property lay fallow out in no man's land. He'd lost seven sons and grandsons to the conflict there. "We've had no support from the government since the fighting started," he said, "no one has visited us or asked what we need. We've been on our own fighting al Qaeda which gets money and arms from around the world. Only recently, the Iraqi Army has given us some soldiers and weapons, and that has helped very much, but we need more, much more help, money, arms, provisions. We ask that you pass this on to the government." Above his head hung a moonlit poster of the Shiite martyr Imam Ali on a white horse crossing a river. One sheik after another came in and repeated the same concerns.

Dafaa has perforce become an exclusively Shiite village, an international force of militant Sunnis having occupied the villages roundabout. They are led, according to locals, by Afghans who have forced farmers to give them their daughters in marriage and "made everyone look Afghani like them, with long beards." They decapitate doubters and float them down the river to Dafaa village. "No fish anymore," say the locals.

In wider Diyala province, wedged strategically between Iran and Baghdad, many of the Sunnis were in Saddam's security forces, and for a while the al Qaeda leader was a former Saddam army colonel, according to Mr. Chalabi. They consider themselves a last line of resistance to the Shiite continuum between Iran and Iraqi Shiites to the south, so they accommodate foreign Sunni fighters more readily than, say, the Sunni tribes in Anbar province who feel more secure.

In the last year, al Qaeda rolled up the front until Dafaa village lay exposed like an arrowhead surrounded on three sides. It served as the final redoubt protecting the last bridge open to vital goods from the north directly supplying Baghdad. Finally, some months ago, a small contingent of 15 Iraqi Army troops moved in with high-caliber armor and stabilized the front. "That's all it took," said the young lieutenant in charge as he showed us and the 20-foot earthen ramparts, "because we fight alongside the people." Listening to anecdotes and viewing bullet marks from snipers, we stood outlined on the ridge squinting across empty cracked fields. The nearest village shaded by date trees sat a mere 900 meters away. Our self-exposure proved foolhardy in short order.

As the buffet lunch got going, a soldier ran over and reported two pickups racing across no man's land towards us. He was told to report developments. He raced back saying that they seemed to be unloading mortars. This time, he was told to repel them. The opposition had no doubt seen all the ridge-top activity, the civilians, camera crews, berobed sheiks--and responded briskly. The first high-explosive shell, later identified as launched from an 82mm heavy mortar, must have landed to the left of the village. It shook everything and blurred my sight. Our side opened fire with Kalashnikovs, perhaps some 30 fighters in all slithering up the slope, one standing on the skyline with a full machine gun while being fed the magazine-belt by his friend. The tank too thundered away. Then the APC cannon.

I lost my head somewhat and ran at the rampart to look over the top but was thankfully tackled and stopped. The visiting sheiks crowded into the community hall. Mr. Chalabi never ceased talking to the TV camera, demanding help for the village. The second shell landed closer and behind us and fine yellow earth-dust floated over us. The sheiks were herded outside as a direct hit would have killed them all. It seemed the enemy had hit the structure before, maybe even had its GPS coordinates. The chaos intensified, the fighters now ducking from incoming fire. It was frustrating not to see the full picture. Two U.S. choppers flew overhead toward the opposition. The third mortar detonated, quite close this time, perhaps some 30 yards to the left, behind shuddering mud-brick structures, making my clothing flicker in the blast and my breath drop out. The tank fired again. The sheiks ran around ascending their SUVs with help from villagers. I counted three shells in all but some say six landed. It was hard to tell in the confusion. Suddenly a shout rose up and the fighters danced up and down below the ridge and came running down to us laughing. They'd destroyed one of the targets, it seemed.





What about the other? "It's OK, it's OK," someone shouted to me, and everyone began firing into the air to the great anger of a visiting army officer. They could scarcely afford the ammunition. We later found out, though, that the combined sound of gunfire, added to by bodyguards, had impressed the attackers--they apparently feared the presence of a much bigger force. They stopped, at least for now, which gave us the chance to leap into our vehicles, with Mr. Chalabi in his blue Parisian suit and poplin shirt pleading to the last in front of the cameras, before being bundled off to safety.
As we drove away from the village along the raised earth road, I looked back to see perhaps a hundred SUVs, a mile long, belting along behind carrying the elders. An Iraqi Army Humvee with mounted machine gun charged past us to the front. They'd been helping to guard the last bridge to Baghdad. But now, one felt, the villagers could guard it handily. They no longer felt isolated and forgotten by the world, as the television sets showed this night all over the Mideast.

Mr. Kaylan is an Istanbul-born writer based in New York.
WSJ
25995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: May 21, 2007, 05:16:11 PM
EMMA GUNBY
Press Association Newsfile
http://www.officer.com/article/article.jsp?siteSection=1&id=36197

The UK's first police "spy drone" took to the skies today.  The remote control helicopter, fitted with CCTV cameras, will be used by officers in Merseyside to track criminals and record anti-social behaviour.  The drone is only a metre wide, weighs less than a bag of sugar, and can record images from a height of 500m.  It was originally used for military reconnaissance but is now being trialled by a mainstream police force.

The spy plane was launched as a senior police officer warned the surveillance society in the UK is eroding civil liberties.

Ian Readhead, deputy chief constable of Hampshire Police, said Britain could face an Orwellian situation with cameras on every street corner.  However, senior officers in Merseyside, who are trialling the drone, said they did not believe it was the next phase in creating a Big Brother society.

Assistant chief constable Simon Byrne said: "People clamour for the feeling of safety which cameras give.

"Obviously there is a point of view that has been expressed but our feedback from the public is anything we can do to fight crime is a good thing.

"There are safeguards in place legally covering the use of CCTV and the higher the level of intrusion, the higher the level of authority needed within the police force to use it. So there is that balance there."

Police said the drone is expected to be operational by June and will be given a three-month trial.

25996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ courting Black American Muslims on: May 21, 2007, 03:39:11 PM
Monday, May 21, 2007


Pitch to African-Americans invokes 'martyr' Malcolm X



© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Al-Qaida is aggressively recruiting black Americans for suicide operations against the homeland, say FBI analysts who have reviewed recent videotaped messages from the terror group's leaders.

A speech released May 5 by Osama bin Laden's deputy confirms earlier fears that African-Americans are the No. 1 recruiting target for the next generation of attacks. Al-Qaida has been trying to lower its Arab profile to reduce the odds that its terror cells will be subjected to security scrutiny.

"Federal and local law enforcement authorities should be aware that al-Qaida terrorists may not appear Arab," warns a recent Homeland Security intelligence report obtained by WND. "Non-Arab al-Qaida operatives could find it easier to avoid unwanted scrutiny since they may not fit typical profiles."

In the latest message, al-Qaida No. 2 Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri clearly seeks to sow political and racial discontent among African-Americans. He makes frequent references to what he calls the "martyr" Malcolm X, and says "I want blacks in America to know that we are waging jihad to lift oppression from all mankind."

Zawahiri encourages African-Americans to follow the example of Malcolm X, a.k.a. al-Hajj Malik al-Shabaaz, who he says was not afraid to sacrifice his life to fight American "oppression."

According to a transcript of the hour-long screed, Zawahiri said this is "the culture which the struggler and martyr Malcom X (may Allah have mercy upon him) fought against when he told his repressed black brothers in America, 'If you're not ready to die for it, take the word "freedom" out of your vocabulary.'"

"Freedom is something that you have to do for yourself," he quotes Malcolm X as as saying. "The price of freedom is death."

Zawahiri, again citing the teachings of Malcolm X, suggests that black Muslims who do not rise up against America are no better than "house slaves."

It's the first time al-Qaida has identified Malcolm X as a fellow Islamic "struggler and martyr," analysts say.

"Zawahiri's focus on race relations may be benefiting from the input of a U.S. citizen named Adam Yahiye Gadahn – a.k.a Azaam al-Amriki – who is a senior member of al-Qaida's media committee," said former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, now an analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank specializing in national security.

"Indeed," he added, "the deftness and political timeliness of Zawahiri's statements suggest that al-Qaida may have more than a single American advising it."

Last year, in another nearly hour-long videotaped speech, al-Qaida propaganda chief Gadahn invited blacks to convert to Islam and take revenge against a nation that enslaved their ancestors.

Gadahn, a white convert from California thought to be operating out of al-Qaida's new base in Pakistan, slammed his native America, which he said "shamelessly brought us lynch laws, Jim Crow, and a death row where only convicts of certain races are sent."

In courting African-Americans, he also encouraged them to forsake Christianity, which he claims whites have used as an excuse to abuse blacks.

"Islam rejects the Judeo-Christian doctrines concerning Eve and Ham, which the West has used to justify all manner of abuse and ill treatment of women and blacks," Gadahn said. "Islam is for everyone."

Gadahn, who is wanted by the FBI for treason, also claims that America "enslaved Africa."

Islamic terrorism analysts point out that al-Qaida's racial history lessons conveniently leave out the fact that Arab Muslim slave traders sold Africans into bondage.

"The Arab is the true master of the African," said Bill Warner, director of the Center for Study of Political Islam. "Blacks like to imagine Islam is their counterweight to white power, not that Islam has ruled them for 1,400 years."

Blacks account for the largest share of Muslims in America. A great many of them are converts to Islam. And remarkably, the religion is flourishing among African-Americans since 9/11. Analysts fear the trend plays right into bin Laden's hands.

Black converts say Islam has more in common with their African heritage than Christianity. In fact, black Muslim leaders often refer to such conversions as "reversions," claiming black "reverts" are merely returning to the Islamic faith prominent among their African forebears who were forced into slavery.

"You have African-American men seeking liberation," explained black Muslim leader Eric Erfan Vickers, "and many see Christianity as a white man's religion that continues to oppress."

Vickers, a convert to Islam, does not consider al-Qaida a terrorism group. "They are involved in a resistance movement," he contended.

Prisons have already proven to be a fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaida, spawning the likes of shoebomber Richard Reid and alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla.

Christian prison chaplains say Islam is so popular with inmates they are having a hard time competing with Muslim chaplains for their souls. Blacks are being converted by the cell block. The FBI worries blacks could be the next face of terror in America.

Since 9/11, the agency has already disrupted several homegrown terror plots involving black Muslim converts, including:


A group of black Muslim converts in Miami who allegedly conspired to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago (some had rap sheets).

A Chicago black Muslim, Derrick Shareef, who allegedly plotted to blow up a local shopping mall.

A black U.S. soldier, Hassan Abujihaad, who allegedly fed terrorists classified information about U.S. battleship movements in the Strait of Hormuz.

Black ex-con Muslims in Torrance, Calif., who allegedly planned to attack military recruiting stations and synagogues in the state. The plot was initially hatched in prison.
Still, some analysts doubt al-Qaida's pitch will resonate in today's black community beyond a handful of malcontents. They point out that African-Americans are no longer held back by institutional racism, and are growing wealthier as evidenced by the expanding black middle class.

Indeed, Zawahiri does not paint a very enticing picture in describing the sacrifices required along the path of jihad, especially for those used to the material comforts of America.

"If we continue to aspire to nothing more than diplomas, positions, salaries, pensions and the raising of our children, there will be nothing but humiliation in store for us, our children and our grandchildren," he argued. "If, on the other hand, we are happy with killing, captivity, emigration, losing one's spouse, orphanage, and losing one's wealth, homeland and beloved in the path of Allah, then with Allah's help, no power on the face of the earth can defeat us."

Zawahiri in his latest speech also made fresh threats about coming attacks on America.

He warns that a new "squadron of martyrdom-seekers" is lined up behind "hundreds" of new leaders who are following in the footsteps of captured 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"They shall achieve more than he achieved," Zawahiri vowed. "The Americans shall pay dearly."

He says American voters had a chance to fire Bush in the last presidential election for invading Iraq, but they chose instead to reelect him. He suggests they forfeited their chance for protection from terrorism, and deserve punishment.

"The Americans deserve what they're getting," he said. "They chose this liar two times, so let them pay the price for their choice."

Gadahn has said "the streets of America shall run red with blood," later singling out Los Angeles as a target of attack.
25997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin on: May 21, 2007, 03:15:22 PM
Michele Malkin lets fly on a black on white crime and asks why it hasn't made the news:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbQ_iybMpZo
25998  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: May 20, 2007, 08:30:22 AM
I just clicked on the registered fighters list and count 40.

At the moment Lynn is the only woman.  If you think she's up for it and up to it, we'll let her do knife with the men.

With any luck, the deal with OP/Nat Geo signs tomorrow.
25999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan part five on: May 20, 2007, 07:55:56 AM


Future wars will be those of communal survival, aggravated or, in many cases, caused by environmental scarcity. These wars will be subnational, meaning that it will be hard for states and local governments to protect their own citizens physically. This is how many states will ultimately die. As state power fades--and with it the state's ability to help weaker groups within society, not to mention other states--peoples and cultures around the world will be thrown back upon their own strengths and weaknesses, with fewer equalizing mechanisms to protect them. Whereas the distant future will probably see the emergence of a racially hybrid, globalized man, the coming decades will see us more aware of our differences than of our similarities. To the average person, political values will mean less, personal security more. The belief that we are all equal is liable to be replaced by the overriding obsession of the ancient Greek travelers: Why the differences between peoples?

The Last Map
In Geography and the Human Spirit, Anne Buttimer, a professor at University College, Dublin, recalls the work of an early-nineteenth-century German geographer, Carl Ritter, whose work implied "a divine plan for humanity" based on regionalism and a constant, living flow of forms. The map of the future, to the extent that a map is even possible, will represent a perverse twisting of Ritter's vision. Imagine cartography in three dimensions, as if in a hologram. In this hologram would be the overlapping sediments of group and other identities atop the merely two-dimensional color markings of city-states and the remaining nations, themselves confused in places by shadowy tentacles, hovering overhead, indicating the power of drug cartels, mafias, and private security agencies. Instead of borders, there would be moving "centers" of power, as in the Middle Ages. Many of these layers would be in motion. Replacing fixed and abrupt lines on a flat space would be a shifting pattern of buffer entities, like the Kurdish and Azeri buffer entities between Turkey and Iran, the Turkic Uighur buffer entity between Central Asia and Inner China (itself distinct from coastal China), and the Latino buffer entity replacing a precise U.S.-Mexican border. To this protean cartographic hologram one must add other factors, such as migrations of populations, explosions of birth rates, vectors of disease. Henceforward the map of the world will never be static. This future map--in a sense, the "Last Map"--will be an ever-mutating representation of chaos.

The Indian subcontinent offers examples of what is happening. For different reasons, both India and Pakistan are increasingly dysfunctional. The argument over democracy in these places is less and less relevant to the larger issue of governability. In India's case the question arises, Is one unwieldy bureaucracy in New Delhi the best available mechanism for promoting the lives of 866 million people of diverse languages, religions, and ethnic groups? In 1950, when the Indian population was much less than half as large and nation-building idealism was still strong, the argument for democracy was more impressive than it is now. Given that in 2025 India's population could be close to 1.5 billion, that much of its economy rests on a shrinking natural-resource base, including dramatically declining water levels, and that communal violence and urbanization are spiraling upward, it is difficult to imagine that the Indian state will survive the next century. India's oft-trumpeted Green Revolution has been achieved by overworking its croplands and depleting its watershed. Norman Myers, a British development consultant, worries that Indians have "been feeding themselves today by borrowing against their children's food sources."

Pakistan's problem is more basic still: like much of Africa, the country makes no geographic or demographic sense. It was founded as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent, yet there are more subcontinental Muslims outside Pakistan than within it. Like Yugoslavia, Pakistan is a patchwork of ethnic groups, increasingly in violent conflict with one another. While the Western media gushes over the fact that the country has a woman Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, Karachi is becoming a subcontinental version of Lagos. In eight visits to Pakistan, I have never gotten a sense of a cohesive national identity. With as much as 65 percent of its land dependent on intensive irrigation, with wide-scale deforestation, and with a yearly population growth of 2.7 percent (which ensures that the amount of cultivated land per rural inhabitant will plummet), Pakistan is becoming a more and more desperate place. As irrigation in the Indus River basin intensifies to serve two growing populations, Muslim-Hindu strife over falling water tables may be unavoidable.

"India and Pakistan will probably fall apart," Homer-Dixon predicts. "Their secular governments have less and less legitimacy as well as less management ability over people and resources." Rather than one bold line dividing the subcontinent into two parts, the future will likely see a lot of thinner lines and smaller parts, with the ethnic entities of Pakhtunistan and Punjab gradually replacing Pakistan in the space between the Central Asian plateau and the heart of the subcontinent.

None of this even takes into account climatic change, which, if it occurs in the next century, will further erode the capacity of existing states to cope. India, for instance, receives 70 percent of its precipitation from the monsoon cycle, which planetary warming could disrupt.

Not only will the three-dimensional aspects of the Last Map be in constant motion, but its two-dimensional base may change too. The National Academy of Sciences reports that "as many as one billion people, or 20 per cent of the world's population, live on lands likely to be inundated or dramatically changed by rising waters. . . . Low-lying countries in the developing world such as Egypt and Bangladesh, where rivers are large and the deltas extensive and densely populated, will be hardest hit. . . . Where the rivers are dammed, as in the case of the Nile, the effects . . . will be especially severe."

Egypt could be where climatic upheaval--to say nothing of the more immediate threat of increasing population--will incite religious upheaval in truly biblical fashion. Natural catastrophes, such as the October, 1992, Cairo earthquake, in which the government failed to deliver relief aid and slum residents were in many instances helped by their local mosques, can only strengthen the position of Islamic factions. In a statement about greenhouse warming which could refer to any of a variety of natural catastrophes, the environmental expert Jessica Tuchman Matthews warns that many of us underestimate the extent to which political systems, in affluent societies as well as in places like Egypt, "depend on the underpinning of natural systems." She adds, "The fact that one can move with ease from Vermont to Miami has nothing to say about the consequences of Vermont acquiring Miami's climate."

Indeed, it is not clear that the United States will survive the next century in exactly its present form. Because America is a multi-ethnic society, the nation-state has always been more fragile here than it is in more homogeneous societies like Germany and Japan. James Kurth, in an article published in The National Interest in 1992, explains that whereas nation-state societies tend to be built around a mass-conscription army and a standardized public school system, "multicultural regimes" feature a high-tech, all-volunteer army (and, I would add, private schools that teach competing values), operating in a culture in which the international media and entertainment industry has more influence than the "national political class." In other words, a nation-state is a place where everyone has been educated along similar lines, where people take their cue from national leaders, and where everyone (every male, at least) has gone through the crucible of military service, making patriotism a simpler issue. Writing about his immigrant family in turn-of-the-century Chicago, Saul Bellow states, "The country took us over. It was a country then, not a collection of 'cultures.'"

During the Second World War and the decade following it, the United States reached its apogee as a classic nation-state. During the 1960s, as is now clear, America began a slow but unmistakable process of transformation. The signs hardly need belaboring: racial polarity, educational dysfunction, social fragmentation of many and various kinds. William Irwin Thompson, in Passages About Earth: An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture, writes, "The educational system that had worked on the Jews or the Irish could no longer work on the blacks; and when Jewish teachers in New York tried to take black children away from their parents exactly in the way they had been taken from theirs, they were shocked to encounter a violent affirmation of negritude."

Issues like West Africa could yet emerge as a new kind of foreign-policy issue, further eroding America's domestic peace. The spectacle of several West African nations collapsing at once could reinforce the worst racial stereotypes here at home. That is another reason why Africa matters. We must not kid ourselves: the sensitivity factor is higher than ever. The Washington, D.C., public school system is already experimenting with an Afrocentric curriculum. Summits between African leaders and prominent African-Americans are becoming frequent, as are Pollyanna-ish prognostications about multiparty elections in Africa that do not factor in crime, surging birth rates, and resource depletion. The Congressional Black Caucus was among those urging U.S. involvement in Somalia and in Haiti. At the Los Angeles Times minority staffers have protested against, among other things, what they allege to be the racist tone of the newspaper's Africa coverage, allegations that the editor of the "World Report" section, Dan Fisher, denies, saying essentially that Africa should be viewed through the same rigorous analytical lens as other parts of the world.

Africa may be marginal in terms of conventional late-twentieth-century conceptions of strategy, but in an age of cultural and racial clash, when national defense is increasingly local, Africa's distress will exert a destabilizing influence on the United States.

This and many other factors will make the United States less of a nation than it is today, even as it gains territory following the peaceful dissolution of Canada. Quebec, based on the bedrock of Roman Catholicism and Francophone ethnicity, could yet turn out to be North America's most cohesive and crime-free nation-state. (It may be a smaller Quebec, though, since aboriginal peoples may lop off northern parts of the province.) "Patriotism" will become increasingly regional as people in Alberta and Montana discover that they have far more in common with each other than they do with Ottawa or Washington, and Spanish-speakers in the Southwest discover a greater commonality with Mexico City. (The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau, a book about the continent's regionalization, is more relevant now than when it was published, in 1981.) As Washington's influence wanes, and with it the traditional symbols of American patriotism, North Americans will take psychological refuge in their insulated communities and cultures.

Returning from West Africa last fall was an illuminating ordeal. After leaving Abidjan, my Air Afrique flight landed in Dakar, Senegal, where all passengers had to disembark in order to go through another security check, this one demanded by U.S. authorities before they would permit the flight to set out for New York. Once we were in New York, despite the midnight hour, immigration officials at Kennedy Airport held up disembarkation by conducting quick interrogations of the aircraft's passengers--this was in addition to all the normal immigration and customs procedures. It was apparent that drug smuggling, disease, and other factors had contributed to the toughest security procedures I have ever encountered when returning from overseas.

Then, for the first time in over a month, I spotted businesspeople with attache cases and laptop computers. When I had left New York for Abidjan, all the businesspeople were boarding planes for Seoul and Tokyo, which departed from gates near Air Afrique's. The only non-Africans off to West Africa had been relief workers in T-shirts and khakis. Although the borders within West Africa are increasingly unreal, those separating West Africa from the outside world are in various ways becoming more impenetrable.

But Afrocentrists are right in one respect: we ignore this dying region at our own risk. When the Berlin Wall was falling, in November of 1989, I happened to be in Kosovo, covering a riot between Serbs and Albanians. The future was in Kosovo, I told myself that night, not in Berlin. The same day that Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat clasped hands on the White House lawn, my Air Afrique plane was approaching Bamako, Mali, revealing corrugated-zinc shacks at the edge of an expanding desert. The real news wasn't at the White House, I realized. It was right below.

Copyright © 1994 by Robert Kaplan. All rights reserved. The Atlantic Monthly; February 1994; The Coming Anarchy; Volume 273, No. 2; pages 44-76

Also see: Thomas Homer-Dixon, Jeffrey Boutwell, and George Rathjens, "Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict," Scientific American, February 1993; and from Homer-Dixon, "Environmental Scarcity and Global Security" Headline Series (New York: Foreign Policy Association, 1993).  The Project on Environment, Population and Security: Conflict, Sustainable Development  Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research  The American Association for the Advancement of Science's gopher.
26000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan part four on: May 20, 2007, 07:54:38 AM
The Lies of Mapmakers
Whereas West Africa represents the least stable part of political reality outside Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, Turkey, an organic outgrowth of two Turkish empires that ruled Anatolia for 850 years, has been among the most stable. Turkey's borders were established not by colonial powers but in a war of independence, in the early 1920s. Kemal Ataturk provided Turkey with a secular nation-building myth that most Arab and African states, burdened by artificially drawn borders, lack. That lack will leave many Arab states defenseless against a wave of Islam that will eat away at their legitimacy and frontiers in coming years. Yet even as regards Turkey, maps deceive.

It is not only African shantytowns that don't appear on urban maps. Many shantytowns in Turkey and elsewhere are also missing--as are the considerable territories controlled by guerrilla armies and urban mafias. Traveling with Eritrean guerrillas in what, according to the map, was northern Ethiopia, traveling in "northern Iraq" with Kurdish guerrillas, and staying in a hotel in the Caucasus controlled by a local mafia--to say nothing of my experiences in West Africa--led me to develop a healthy skepticism toward maps, which, I began to realize, create a conceptual barrier that prevents us from comprehending the political crack-up just beginning to occur worldwide.

Consider the map of the world, with its 190 or so countries, each signified by a bold and uniform color: this map, with which all of us have grown up, is generally an invention of modernism, specifically of European colonialism. Modernism, in the sense of which I speak, began with the rise of nation-states in Europe and was confirmed by the death of feudalism at the end of the Thirty Years' War--an event that was interposed between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, which together gave birth to modern science. People were suddenly flush with an enthusiasm to categorize, to define. The map, based on scientific techniques of measurement, offered a way to classify new national organisms, making a jigsaw puzzle of neat pieces without transition zones between them. "Frontier" is itself a modern concept that didn't exist in the feudal mind. And as European nations carved out far-flung domains at the same time that print technology was making the reproduction of maps cheaper, cartography came into its own as a way of creating facts by ordering the way we look at the world.

In his book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson, of Cornell University, demonstrates that the map enabled colonialists to think about their holdings in terms of a "totalizing classificatory grid. . . . It was bounded, determinate, and therefore--in principle--countable." To the colonialist, country maps were the equivalent of an accountant's ledger books. Maps, Anderson explains, "shaped the grammar" that would make possible such questionable concepts as Iraq, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The state, recall, is a purely Western notion, one that until the twentieth century applied to countries covering only three percent of the earth's land area. Nor is the evidence compelling that the state, as a governing ideal, can be successfully transported to areas outside the industrialized world. Even the United States of America, in the words of one of our best living poets, Gary Snyder, consists of "arbitrary and inaccurate impositions on what is really here."

Yet this inflexible, artificial reality staggers on, not only in the United Nations but in various geographic and travel publications (themselves by-products of an age of elite touring which colonialism made possible) that still report on and photograph the world according to "country." Newspapers, this magazine, and this writer are not innocent of the tendency.

According to the map, the great hydropower complex emblemized by the Ataturk Dam is situated in Turkey. Forget the map. This southeastern region of Turkey is populated almost completely by Kurds. About half of the world's 20 million Kurds live in "Turkey." The Kurds are predominant in an ellipse of territory that overlaps not only with Turkey but also with Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the former Soviet Union. The Western-enforced Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, a consequence of the 1991 Gulf War, has already exposed the fictitious nature of that supposed nation-state.

On a recent visit to the Turkish-Iranian border, it occurred to me what a risky idea the nation-state is. Here I was on the legal fault line between two clashing civilizations, Turkic and Iranian. Yet the reality was more subtle: as in West Africa, the border was porous and smuggling abounded, but here the people doing the smuggling, on both sides of the border, were Kurds. In such a moonscape, over which peoples have migrated and settled in patterns that obliterate borders, the end of the Cold War will bring on a cruel process of natural selection among existing states. No longer will these states be so firmly propped up by the West or the Soviet Union. Because the Kurds overlap with nearly everybody in the Middle East, on account of their being cheated out of a state in the post-First World War peace treaties, they are emerging, in effect, as the natural selector--the ultimate reality check. They have destabilized Iraq and may continue to disrupt states that do not offer them adequate breathing space, while strengthening states that do.

Because the Turks, owing to their water resources, their growing economy, and the social cohesion evinced by the most crime-free slums I have encountered, are on the verge of big-power status, and because the 10 million Kurds within Turkey threaten that status, the outcome of the Turkish-Kurdish dispute will be more critical to the future of the Middle East than the eventual outcome of the recent Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

America's fascination with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, coupled with its lack of interest in the Turkish-Kurdish one, is a function of its own domestic and ethnic obsessions, not of the cartographic reality that is about to transform the Middle East. The diplomatic process involving Israelis and Palestinians will, I believe, have little effect on the early- and mid-twenty-first-century map of the region. Israel, with a 6.6 percent economic growth rate based increasingly on high-tech exports, is about to enter Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, fortified by a well-defined political community that is an organic outgrowth of history and ethnicity. Like prosperous and peaceful Japan on the one hand, and war-torn and poverty-wracked Armenia on the other, Israel is a classic national-ethnic organism. Much of the Arab world, however, will undergo alteration, as Islam spreads across artificial frontiers, fueled by mass migrations into the cities and a soaring birth rate of more than 3.2 percent. Seventy percent of the Arab population has been born since 1970--youths with little historical memory of anticolonial independence struggles, postcolonial attempts at nation-building, or any of the Arab-Israeli wars. The most distant recollection of these youths will be the West's humiliation of colonially invented Iraq in 1991. Today seventeen out of twenty-two Arab states have a declining gross national product; in the next twenty years, at current growth rates, the population of many Arab countries will double. These states, like most African ones, will be ungovernable through conventional secular ideologies. The Middle East analyst Christine M. Helms explains, "Declaring Arab nationalism "bankrupt," the political "disinherited" are not rationalizing the failure of Arabism . . . or reformulating it. Alternative solutions are not contemplated. They have simply opted for the political paradigm at the other end of the political spectrum with which they are familiar--Islam."

Like the borders of West Africa, the colonial borders of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, and other Arab states are often contrary to cultural and political reality. As state control mechanisms wither in the face of environmental and demographic stress, "hard" Islamic city-states or shantytown-states are likely to emerge. The fiction that the impoverished city of Algiers, on the Mediterranean, controls Tamanrasset, deep in the Algerian Sahara, cannot obtain forever. Whatever the outcome of the peace process, Israel is destined to be a Jewish ethnic fortress amid a vast and volatile realm of Islam. In that realm, the violent youth culture of the Gaza shantytowns may be indicative of the coming era.

The destiny of Turks and Kurds is far less certain, but far more relevant to the kind of map that will explain our future world. The Kurds suggest a geographic reality that cannot be shown in two-dimensional space. The issue in Turkey is not simply a matter of giving autonomy or even independence to Kurds in the southeast. This isn't the Balkans or the Caucasus, where regions are merely subdividing into smaller units, Abkhazia breaking off from Georgia, and so on. Federalism is not the answer. Kurds are found everywhere in Turkey, including the shanty districts of Istanbul and Ankara. Turkey's problem is that its Anatolian land mass is the home of two cultures and languages, Turkish and Kurdish. Identity in Turkey, as in India, Africa, and elsewhere, is more complex and subtle than conventional cartography can display.

A New Kind of War
To appreciate fully the political and cartographic implications of postmodernism--an epoch of themeless juxtapositions, in which the classificatory grid of nation-states is going to be replaced by a jagged-glass pattern of city-states, shanty-states, nebulous and anarchic regionalisms--it is necessary to consider, finally, the whole question of war.

"Oh, what a relief to fight, to fight enemies who defend themselves, enemies who are awake!" Andre Malraux wrote in Man's Fate. I cannot think of a more suitable battle cry for many combatants in the early decades of the twenty-first century. The intense savagery of the fighting in such diverse cultural settings as Liberia, Bosnia, the Caucasus, and Sri Lanka--to say nothing of what obtains in American inner cities--indicates something very troubling that those of us inside the stretch limo, concerned with issues like middle-class entitlements and the future of interactive cable television, lack the stomach to contemplate. It is this: a large number of people on this planet, to whom the comfort and stability of a middle-class life is utterly unknown, find war and a barracks existence a step up rather than a step down.

"Just as it makes no sense to ask 'why people eat' or 'what they sleep for,'" writes Martin van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in The Transformation of War, "so fighting in many ways is not a means but an end. Throughout history, for every person who has expressed his horror of war there is another who found in it the most marvelous of all the experiences that are vouchsafed to man, even to the point that he later spent a lifetime boring his descendants by recounting his exploits." When I asked Pentagon officials about the nature of war in the twenty-first century, the answer I frequently got was "Read Van Creveld." The top brass are enamored of this historian not because his writings justify their existence but, rather, the opposite: Van Creveld warns them that huge state military machines like the Pentagon's are dinosaurs about to go extinct, and that something far more terrible awaits us.

The degree to which Van Creveld's Transformation of War complements Homer-Dixon's work on the environment, Huntington's thoughts on cultural clash, my own realizations in traveling by foot, bus, and bush taxi in more than sixty countries, and America's sobering comeuppances in intractable-culture zones like Haiti and Somalia is startling. The book begins by demolishing the notion that men don't like to fight. "By compelling the senses to focus themselves on the here and now," Van Creveld writes, war "can cause a man to take his leave of them." As anybody who has had experience with Chetniks in Serbia, "technicals" in Somalia, Tontons Macoutes in Haiti, or soldiers in Sierra Leone can tell you, in places where the Western Enlightenment has not penetrated and where there has always been mass poverty, people find liberation in violence. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, I vicariously experienced this phenomenon: worrying about mines and ambushes frees you from worrying about mundane details of daily existence. If my own experience is too subjective, there is a wealth of data showing the sheer frequency of war, especially in the developing world since the Second World War. Physical aggression is a part of being human. Only when people attain a certain economic, educational, and cultural standard is this trait tranquilized. In light of the fact that 95 percent of the earth's population growth will be in the poorest areas of the globe, the question is not whether there will be war (there will be a lot of it) but what kind of war. And who will fight whom?

Debunking the great military strategist Carl von Clausewitz, Van Creveld, who may be the most original thinker on war since that early-nineteenth-century Prussian, writes, "Clausewitz's ideas . . . were wholly rooted in the fact that, ever since 1648, war had been waged overwhelmingly by states." But, as Van Creveld explains, the period of nation-states and, therefore, of state conflict is now ending, and with it the clear "threefold division into government, army, and people" which state-directed wars enforce. Thus, to see the future, the first step is to look back to the past immediately prior to the birth of modernism--the wars in medieval Europe which began during the Reformation and reached their culmination in the Thirty Years' War.

Van Creveld writes, "In all these struggles political, social, economic, and religious motives were hopelessly entangled. Since this was an age when armies consisted of mercenaries, all were also attended by swarms of military entrepreneurs. . . . Many of them paid little but lip service to the organizations for whom they had contracted to fight. Instead, they robbed the countryside on their own behalf. . . ."

"Given such conditions, any fine distinctions . . . between armies on the one hand and peoples on the other were bound to break down. Engulfed by war, civilians suffered terrible atrocities."

Back then, in other words, there was no "politics" as we have come to understand the term, just as there is less and less "politics" today in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, among other places.

Because, as Van Creveld notes, the radius of trust within tribal societies is narrowed to one's immediate family and guerrilla comrades, truces arranged with one Bosnian commander, say, may be broken immediately by another Bosnian commander. The plethora of short-lived ceasefires in the Balkans and the Caucasus constitute proof that we are no longer in a world where the old rules of state warfare apply. More evidence is provided by the destruction of medieval monuments in the Croatian port of Dubrovnik: when cultures, rather than states, fight, then cultural and religious monuments are weapons of war, making them fair game.

Also, war-making entities will no longer be restricted to a specific territory. Loose and shadowy organisms such as Islamic terrorist organizations suggest why borders will mean increasingly little and sedimentary layers of tribalistic identity and control will mean more. "From the vantage point of the present, there appears every prospect that religious . . . fanaticisms will play a larger role in the motivation of armed conflict" in the West than at any time "for the last 300 years," Van Creveld writes. This is why analysts like Michael Vlahos are closely monitoring religious cults. Vlahos says, "An ideology that challenges us may not take familiar form, like the old Nazis or Commies. It may not even engage us initially in ways that fit old threat markings." Van Creveld concludes, "Armed conflict will be waged by men on earth, not robots in space. It will have more in common with the struggles of primitive tribes than with large-scale conventional war." While another military historian, John Keegan, in his new book A History of Warfare, draws a more benign portrait of primitive man, it is important to point out that what Van Creveld really means is re-primitivized man: warrior societies operating at a time of unprecedented resource scarcity and planetary overcrowding.

Van Creveld's pre-Westphalian vision of worldwide low-intensity conflict is not a superficial "back to the future" scenario. First of all, technology will be used toward primitive ends. In Liberia the guerrilla leader Prince Johnson didn't just cut off the ears of President Samuel Doe before Doe was tortured to death in 1990--Johnson made a video of it, which has circulated throughout West Africa. In December of 1992, when plotters of a failed coup against the Strasser regime in Sierra Leone had their ears cut off at Freetown's Hamilton Beach prior to being killed, it was seen by many to be a copycat execution. Considering, as I've explained earlier, that the Strasser regime is not really a government and that Sierra Leone is not really a nation-state, listen closely to Van Creveld: "Once the legal monopoly of armed force, long claimed by the state, is wrested out of its hands, existing distinctions between war and crime will break down much as is already the case today in . . . Lebanon, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Peru, or Colombia."

If crime and war become indistinguishable, then "national defense" may in the future be viewed as a local concept. As crime continues to grow in our cities and the ability of state governments and criminal-justice systems to protect their citizens diminishes, urban crime may, according to Van Creveld, "develop into low-intensity conflict by coalescing along racial, religious, social, and political lines." As small-scale violence multiplies at home and abroad, state armies will continue to shrink, being gradually replaced by a booming private security business, as in West Africa, and by urban mafias, especially in the former communist world, who may be better equipped than municipal police forces to grant physical protection to local inhabitants.
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